Towards the end of 2015 America watched the appalling aftermath of an unprovoked attack involving two radicalized ISIS sympathizers who went on a deadly shooting spree that killed 14 and injured 21 others in San Bernardino, Calif.
The two were quickly tracked before engaging responding officers in a moving gun battle that cost the attackers their lives and led to the discovery of a cache of pipe bombs and stockpiled ammunition suggesting additional carnage was in the offing.
That event came just days after a man bent on violence engaged in a shooting spree and held police at bay for hours at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, Colo. -- Before he surrendered, a police officer and two others were killed, and nine police and others were injured.
Both violent incidents starkly reveal the demands and growing risks law officers face on our streets.
Unfortunately, the White House still continues to offer the American people little more than platitudes that make headlines after events such as these but will do little to protect the public or first responders.
A most visible element of both these violent encounters was the proper, critical police use of military style equipment, the very sort of tactical gear the liberal media, the ACLU, and White House apologists demonize as examples of unnecessary use of force and the “militarization of law enforcement.”
Earlier this year, while pandering to some constituents and ignoring the realities of violent crime in America, the president ordered a ban on the distribution of certain excess military gear and the return of certain types of military equipment from police inventories – equipment that would protect both officers working in increasingly dangerous situations as well as the public.
The president’s flawed solution to recent acts of terrorism and random shooting incidents by unhinged subjects is to strike at both law abiding citizens and cash strapped police departments. News crews had not yet left the scene of the San Bernardino shooting when the president called for stricter gun control laws of law abiding citizens.
In a knee-jerk reaction to protests over recent police shooting incidents, the president ordered the ban on the use of surplus military equipment from police departments that have neither misused the gear nor can afford replacements.
President Obama’s misguided order again raises questions about the his priorities, his intentions, and most certainly his ability to lead.
The timing of these events suggests, once again, a president simply out of touch with the reality of a dangerous America and a dangerous world. His statements referring to ISIS as the “JV team” and, more recently, declaring that ISIS is “contained,” juxtaposed against the bombing of a Russian passenger plane and the carnage in Paris was difficult to reconcile as his White House spin-doctors learned.
Then, in the space of a week, America watched breaking, tragic news in the form of two violent encounters where police utilized armored vehicles to mitigate risks to civilians and themselves.
Coincidentally, those events occurred within days of the execution of Obama’s order to the Department of Defense to take back surplus armored vehicles, lawfully obtained and responsibly used by multiple jurisdictions under the Department of Defense’s “1033” program.
Police and local executives are pushing back: one county executive in Michigan said he heard President Obama say there are ways to make America safer. He urged the president that if he wanted to make first responders safer "first thing tomorrow morning rescind that order."
Unfortunately for that county executive, his police chief, his sheriff, and many others like them, our president is incapable of the sort of introspective review that allows him to walk his actions back and say, “In retrospect, I got this wrong and I’m changing my mind.”
The result will be that the equipment that was obtained without cost and properly used will be taken back, leaving too many cash-strapped local jurisdictions without tactical tools and equipment that will most assuredly save lives.
Who risks the most in this latest chapter in the book of President Obama’s missteps? Once again, it’s the police – his frequent target.
From his comments about Cambridge police after their encounter with a Harvard professor and Obama pal, to his words and deeds after the police shooting of Michael Brown, the president has only given lip service to the men and women in blue while undermining them and the public’s trust and respect for police work at every turn.
Ron Hosko is president of the Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund, and former assistant director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.