President Obama’s Executive Order 13688
On January 16, 2015, President Obama issued Executive Order 13688, "Federal Support for Local Law Enforcement Equipment Acquisition" and established the Law Enforcement Equipment Working Group. The executive order applied to all federal government programs providing property to law enforcement, including the Departments of Homeland Security, Justice, Treasury and the General Services Administration, which provide support to law enforcement agencies through grants and property transfers. The working group provided recommendations to the president in the areas of prohibited and controlled equipment lists; policies, training and protocols for controlled equipment; acquisition process for controlled equipment; transfer, sale, return and disposal of controlled equipment and oversight, compliance and implementation.
The working group's recommendations were accepted by the president and became effective on Oct. 1, 2015. The prohibited equipment list went into effect as soon as the president received the recommendations.
Equipment on the prohibited list included tracked armored vehicles; weaponized aircraft, vessels and vehicles; .50-caliber firearms and ammunition; bayonets; camouflage uniforms and grenade launchers.
Of these prohibited items, LESO had only transferred three item types to authorized law enforcement agencies: tracked armored vehicles, M-79 Vietnam era single-shot grenade launchers and bayonets. LESO recalled these items and all were returned by April 1, 2016.
The numbers of prohibited items returned to LESO included:
- Tracked Armored Vehicles: 126
- Grenade Launchers: 138
- Bayonets: 1,623
View more information pertaining to the Executive Order recall on the Public Information page.
President Trump’s Revocation of Executive Order 1368
On August 28, 2017, the White House issued a “Presidential Executive Order on Restoring State, Tribal, and Local Law Enforcement’s Access to Life-Saving Equipment and Resources.” It revoked Executive Order 13688 and directed all executive departments and agencies “to cease implementing those recommendations and, if necessary, to take prompt action to rescind any rules, regulations, guidelines, or policies implementing them.”
With the revocation of Executive Order 13688, excess tracked armored vehicles and bayonets are no longer prohibited for transfer from LESO/1033 program to law enforcement agencies. For clarity, bayonets are utility knives which law enforcement officers keep in their vehicles for use during emergency situations, such as cutting away a seatbelt to free a trapped passenger. LESO stopped transferring grenade launchers to law enforcement agencies in 1999 and does not plan to resume transfer as they were identified as prohibited equipment by DoD in 1999.
Several of the Executive Order requirements were codified in the Fiscal Year 2016 National Defense Authorization Act, including local civilian governing approval for controlled items and certification of protocols on appropriate use, training, maintenance, sustainment, and audit/accountability. These measures remain in place for the LESO/1033 Program.