+
More

Here's some good news for the nearly half of Americans uneasy about the militarization of police.

Under President Obama's new policy, police forces will need certification before accessing certain types of military-style equipment.

If it seems like local police forces have become increasingly militarized, it's because they have.

One of the most alarming aspects of the police response to protesters in Ferguson, Missouri, was just how much heavy-duty military gear was involved and how out of place that looked against the backdrop of an American city.


This Humvee was posted outside of a Target in Jennings, Missouri, in November 2014. Photo by Michael B. Thomas/AFP/Getty Images.

On May 18, 2015, President Obama addressed this in both speech and policy, vowing to limit the amount of military-style equipment the federal government gives to state and local police.

Speaking in Camden, New Jersey, Obama addressed how when people see the police around them decked out in military-style gear, it's easy to feel as though they're simply an occupying force.


Earlier that day, the president rolled out a list of military equipment that will no longer be available to local law enforcement, including tracked armored vehicles (tanks, basically), weaponized vehicles, large ammunition and firearms (.50-caliber or higher), grenade launchers (why were these needed in the first place?), bayonets, and some forms of camouflage uniforms.

Some militarized equipment will still be available, however, so long as departments go through proper training and certification to get it. That includes planes, helicopters, drones, armored and tactical vehicles with wheels (like the Humvee shown above), explosives, and riot gear.


On Aug. 13, 2014, St. Louis County Police line up for a possible confrontation with Ferguson protesters. Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images.

The public is split on the topic of state and local police using equipment designed for the military.

In an August 2014 USA Today/Pew Research poll, people were asked to weigh in on whether they felt confident that local police could be trusted to use military equipment appropriately. 45% of those polled stated that they either had "not too much" confidence in police or "none at all."

Data by USA Today/Pew Research.

This initiative alone won't resolve the tension between police and the public, but it will certainly have some positive effects.

In his speech in Camden, the president also announced the launch of the White House Police Data Initiative, which will help bring transparency to police work.

The initiative will make certain data available and more accessible to the public and will also help police departments internally identify officers with troublesome behavior patterns earlier:

"While many police departments have systems in place, often called “early warning systems," to identify officers who may be having challenges in their interactions with the public and link them with training and other assistance, there has been little to no research to determine which indicators are most closely linked to bad outcomes. To tackle this issue, twelve police departments committed to sharing data on police/citizen encounters with data scientists for in-depth data analysis, strengthening the ability of police to intervene early and effectively." — Launching the Police Data Initiative

In Oakland, where police have been wearing body cameras for the past four years, a team of data scientists from Stanford University is going to "comb through the audio to surface police/citizen encounters that either went particularly poorly or went particularly well." From this data, the Oakland Police Department will be able to "quickly identify problems and also to lift up real world examples of the great police work that happens every day."

It might be a few years before we start to see the effects of this data collection, but this is definitely a step in the right direction.

You can watch Obama's full speech in Camden here:

Golden retriever has cutest reaction to sister walking.

Here at Upworthy we look for stories that will make you smile and warm your heart and, let’s face it, we could all use a little help in the smile department these days. When we ran across this ridiculously sweet story on The Dodo about a golden retriever and his little human sister, we simply had to share it with you. Taco is a 3-year-old golden retriever who has been lovingly waiting for his new baby sister, Vanora, to be able to play with him, and the day has finally come.

Keep ReadingShow less
Photo by Louis Hansel on Unsplash

Chef broke cycle of "miserable leadership."

Anyone who's worked in a restaurant will know how intense it can be, especially in the kitchen. It’s hot, the cooks are stressed, someone’s always yelling about something and dishes, well, sometimes they end up broken. In upscale restaurants the pressure is even higher, so when this chef began to explain how he turned his kitchen around to be more harmonious and less chaotic, I stopped to listen.

Keep ReadingShow less
Education

Teacher of the year explains why he's leaving district in unforgettable 3-minute speech

"I'm leaving in hopes that I can regain the ability to do the job that I love."

Lee Allen

For all of our disagreements in modern American life, there are at least a few things most of us can agree on. One of those is the need for reform in public education. We don't all agree on the solutions but many of the challenges are undeniable: retaining great teachers, reducing classroom size and updating the focus of student curriculums to reflect the ever-changing needs of a globalized workforce.

And while parents, politicians and activists debate those remedies, one voice is all-too-often ignored: that of teachers themselves.

This is why a short video testimony from a teacher in the Atlanta suburb of Gwinnett County went viral recently. After all, it's hard to deny the points made by someone who was just named teacher of the year and used the occasion to announce why he will be leaving the very school district that just honored him with that distinction.

Keep ReadingShow less