Small-Town Cops Scoring Millions in Military Gear

Tiny police departments taking boats, bayonets, deep-fryers...

By Ruth Brown,  Newser Staff

Posted Aug 1, 2013 9:32 AM CDT

(Newser) – The 1033 Program allows law enforcement agencies to get hold of equipment the military is no longer using—for free. Last year, $546 million in property was transferred. Makes sense, right? If the army has gear just lying around, the cops may as well make use of it. But an investigation by the AP finds most of the departments that are taking the equipment are rural outfits with little crime and few officers, and the stuff they're taking is just ludicrous. Some highlights:

  • The deepest body of water in the small farming town of Morven, Ga., is a shallow creek, but the police chief has there has nabbed three boats, scuba gear, rescue rafts, and dozens of life preservers.
  • Morven, population 700, has also taken a $200,000 decontamination machine (in need of $100,000 of repairs), a shipment of bayonets, 10 combat tents, exercise equipment, and 20 pairs of red gym shorts. In all, Morven, which has three full-time officers, has obtained $4 million of stuff over the past decade.

  • Rising Star, Texas, population 835 and with only one full-time law enforcement official, has taken $3.2 million worth of gear, including nine televisions, 11 computers, three deep-fat fryers, two meat slicers, 22 large space heaters, a pool table, 25 sleeping bags, and playground equipment.
  • Oxford, Ala., snagged a $1.5 million infrared surveillance device for a helicopter it doesn't have (the police chief said it asked for night-vision goggles and got sent that instead).
Click to read the full investigation at the AP.

Morven Police Chief Lynwood Yates walks past a military surplus truck.
Morven Police Chief Lynwood Yates walks past a military surplus truck.   (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
Morven Police Chief Lynwood Yates inspects a military surplus portable floodlight.
Morven Police Chief Lynwood Yates inspects a military surplus portable floodlight.   (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
Morven Police Chief Lynwood Yates stands next to a government surplus boat.
Morven Police Chief Lynwood Yates stands next to a government surplus boat.   (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
In this May 2, 2012 photo, law enforcement and other officials examine surplus gear at Joint Base Lewis McChord in Washington.
In this May 2, 2012 photo, law enforcement and other officials examine surplus gear at Joint Base Lewis McChord in Washington.   (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
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