Cops To Get Free Military Equipment

Sanford not a fan of plan

August 29, 2017 - 10:40 am

AUGUST 29, 2017 BY JARED ROGERS-MARTIN (South Carolina Radio Network)

The Trump Administration has indicated it will reverse another Obama-era regulation and allow police forces to receive surplus military equipment. But South Carolina U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford indicated he does not support the idea.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Monday announced the president would reinstate the 1033 Program through executive order. The program allows the Defense Department to transfer some of its surplus vehicles, weapons and other equipment to local law enforcement agencies. President Obama suspended the program amid criticism of police militarization during 2014 protests and riots in Ferguson, Missouri.

U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford said he would prefer the surplus items be auctioned off. “Our federal government is $20 trillion in debt, and now we’re going to begin a giveaway program from the federal government to local and state law enforcement agencies,” he said in a Facebook post. “This program has been heavily abused because we oftentimes discount the things we get for free and value the things that we pay for.” Sanford said he noticed several small sheriff’s departments in South Carolina would use the program to obtain equipment they did not actually need.

But Gov. Henry McMaster released his own statement in support of the action. “The men and women in law enforcement put their lives on the line every single day – willing to give theirs in order to protect ours,” the statement read. “By fully restoring the 1033 military surplus program, President Trump has once again demonstrated his unflinching dedication to our nation’s law enforcement officers and their families.”

U.S. Rep. Jeff Duncan also supported suspending the program back in 2014, but has not yet commented publicly on the Trump Administration’s move. Duncan said in 2014 he thought armored personnel carriers were “overkill” for police departments.

Newberry County Sheriff Lee Foster defended the program, saying the carriers would have come in handy during a 2003 standoff in Abbeville County involving his department. In that incident, a family protesting a road construction project killed a state constable, shot an Abbeville County deputy, and held officers at bay for 14 hours as they unsuccessfully tried to rescue the mortally wounded deputy.

“They had to improvise to get the officer out that had been shot and wounded, because nobody in that area had anything that could withstand the onslaught they were facing,” Foster said.

Congress created the 1033 Program in 1990 to help departments with drug enforcement efforts. It eventually expanded to any law enforcement agency and involved more than $5.3 billion in surplus equipment from 1990-2014, according to the White House.

Comments ()