As part of the Administration’s effort to build trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve, the Permanent Working Group on Law Enforcement Equipment (PWG) was
established to implement Recommendations to the President pursuant to Executive Order 13688. The Recommendations, which were accepted by the President on May 18, 2015,
harmonize Federal procedures governing the provision of certain equipment to Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs) and ensure that LEAs have proper policies and training in place
regarding the appropriate use of equipment provided through Federal equipment programs. The PWG is a federal inter-agency working group co-led by the Departments of Justice,
Homeland Security, and Defense, with members from the Departments of Education, Interior, and Treasury, and the General Services Administration. The Executive Director of the
PWG is the Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Justice Programs.
On January 16, 2015, President Barack Obama signed Executive Order 13688 establishing
a working group to, among other things, develop recommendations to harmonize Federal
procedures governing the provision of certain equipment through Federal equipment
programs to Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs) and to ensure that LEAs have proper
policies and training in place regarding the appropriate use of such equipment. The
working group was co‐chaired by the Departments of Justice, Homeland Security, and
Defense, with members representing the Departments of Interior, Treasury, and
Education, and the General Services Administration, among others. In May 2015, the
working group delivered recommendations to the President.
The President accepted the Working Group’s Recommendations on May 18, 2015. The
Recommendations officially took effect in Fiscal Year 2016 (beginning October 1, 2015),
but the Prohibited Equipment List took effect upon the President’s acceptance of the
Recommendations. A six‐month transition period (through March 30, 2016) was
implemented to allow LEAs to perform their duties to the fullest extent while working to
comply with new training and policy requirements.
The Recommendations accepted by the President included the establishment of a
Permanent Working Group, or PWG, to implement the Recommendations. The PWG is
comprised of and led by the same Federal agencies as the original law enforcement
equipment working group.
The Executive Order Recommendations apply to Federal programs that provide
equipment to State, local, or Tribal LEAs through excess equipment transfers (including
GSA donations), asset forfeiture programs, and Federal grants.
The Executive Order focused on the provision of equipment through Federal programs to
State, local, and Tribal LEAs because of their role as the primary policing agency in a
community. This does not include the National Guard, other first responders, or Federal
The Working Group met with numerous stakeholders – including law enforcement
groups, civil rights and civil liberties organizations, academia, Tribes, and local
communities. See Appendix C of the Recommendations. The engagements consisted of
meetings, receipt of recommendations or concerns, and expert consultations. The
release of the report was only the beginning of the Federal Government’s engagement
with stakeholders on this issue. Since the Recommendations were released, the PWG
met with stakeholders on a regular basis to receive input on how best to implement the
recommendations, a process that will be ongoing and continuous.
The original working group met with a variety of subject matter experts, law enforcement
groups, civil rights and community leaders, and Federal programs staff to consider a
number of factors, including building trust between law enforcement and the community,
officer safety, the utility of the equipment to law enforcement operations, and the
potential impact on the community if the equipment was overused, misused, or used
Yes. The Prohibited and Controlled Equipment Lists are reviewed annually to determine
whether categories should be added, deleted, or refined. The PWG conducted the first
annual equipment review from July to September 2016 in preparation for
implementation in Fiscal Year 2017.
Armored vehicles can provide critical officer and civilian safety protection and transport
into and out of high‐risk situations. Tracked armored vehicles that had been available
through Federal programs, however, were designed specifically for use in military
operations, and their appearance may undermine community trust when used in support
of civilian law enforcement activities.
During the first six months of Fiscal Year 2016, the Federal Government recalled
equipment that is now on the Prohibited Equipment List. The recall, however, was limited
to the equipment acquired through the Department of Defense’s 1033 program, which is
the only relevant Federal program that retains title to the equipment it transfers. LEAs
that returned tracked armored vehicles received priority for equivalent Controlled
For FY2016, the Prohibited Equipment List included a category called "Grenade
Launchers," which had been available prior to the Executive Order Recommendations as
excess military equipment primarily through DOD’s 1033 program. The definition of this
category caused some confusion whether all launchers, including those specifically
designed to propel less lethal projectiles, were prohibited or uncontrolled. The new
definitions clarify that Less Lethal Launchers are considered Controlled Equipment.
Camouflage uniforms are generally prohibited as they present a military appearance for
civilian law enforcement. The Recommendations recognize, however, that there may be
certain circumstances in which camouflage uniforms have more significant operational
utility (e.g. law enforcement operations in woodland, forest, or desert environments). If
those limited reasons are presented, law enforcement may acquire uniforms to use in
situations where they actually camouflage the wearer. Note that LEAs may never wear
camouflage uniforms acquired through Federal programs in cities, towns, or other urban
or populous areas. There is no prohibition on LEAs acquiring solid color uniforms,
helmets, or other outerwear through Federal programs.
This refers to the standard firearms or weapons that an LEA generally issues to all sworn
officers, and not just to certain specialized units, in its agencies. Weapons issued for
regularly assigned duties are not considered Controlled Equipment.
In its annual equipment review, the PWG considered a number of factors consistent with
the process that created the equipment lists. These factors include officer safety, utility
of equipment to law enforcement, building trust between law enforcement and the
community, and the impact on the community of misuse, overuse, and inappropriate use.
Based on this analysis and considering the significant protection that helmets provide to
law enforcement, the PWG removed this category from the Controlled Equipment List.
Please note that Riot/Crowd Control Batons and Shields continue to be Controlled
No. As the report indicates, the Controlled Equipment List includes categories of
equipment that have utility for law enforcement, including for the protection of law
enforcement officers. Items on the Controlled Equipment List are often used to plan for
and respond to demonstrations and crowd control situations, and the Recommendations
are designed to ensure that LEAs acquiring this equipment from Federal programs have
the appropriate policies, training, and accountability measures in place.
The Recommendations apply only to equipment acquired through Federal programs.
The Recommendations require that LEAs must have in place policies that are consistent
with three General Policing and five Specific Controlled Equipment Standards. In fact,
many LEAs already have policies that adhere to these principles. Aligning LEA policies
with these standards will help ensure that LEAs acquiring Controlled Equipment will use
such equipment appropriately.
The Working Group took into consideration the potential reporting burden and left
considerable discretion to the LEA on how to collect and retain "Required Information."
As the report indicates, the data must be collected and retained by the LEA to be furnished
if requested by the Federal program or compliance agency. No new form is required as
long as the "Required Information" is easily accessible and organized. Additionally, the
description of "Significant Incident" includes those events about which LEAs already are
(or should be) collecting and retaining information.
The Recommendations harmonized processes within and among Federal equipment
programs and created a Government‐wide Prohibited and Controlled Equipment List.
These should be viewed as a baseline, or "floor," to which each Federal equipment
program must adhere. However, Federal agencies and programs may establish additional
guidelines consistent with the differing underlying legal framework and purposes of the
programs at issue.