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Jackson County sheriff seeks to auction, donate surplus military equipment

Jackson County Sheriff's Office Humvee with a Flat Tire
Posted at 10:32 PM, Jul 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-24 03:11:15-04

JACKSON COUNTY, Mo. — Equipment Jackson County Sheriff Darryl Forté says hasn't the hit road or water in years sits in a lot at the Lake City Training Center and Shooting Range between Buckner and Grain Valley.

The agency initially obtained it thru the Defense Logistics Agency's Law Enforcement Support Office, a property transfer program of the U.S. Department of Defense. It's better known the "1033 program."

Since being authorized as part of the National Defense Authorization Act of 1997, the program distributes military surplus to federal, state and local law enforcement agencies.

The Kansas City, Missouri Police Department, does not participate in the program.

"Our equipment needs are supported by our annual budget," Sgt. Jake Becchina, a KCPD spokesperson, told 41 Action News. "There is not an equipment need that would fall under the 1033 that we have, so we have never had a need to look to that program to get needed equipment."

KCPD may be an outlier. So far this year, the 1033 program has approved 14,000 requests, transferring $178 million worth of military equipment to law enforcement agencies.

But the program, which takes equipment that would otherwise be destroyed, is not without its problems.

"The tracking is definitely a widespread problem when you give out that amount of equipment," Kenneth Lowande, assistant professor of political science at the University of Michigan, told 41 Action News. "You're going to run into issues like that."

During an audit last year, Forté made an alarming discovery.

"LESO has contributed a lot of things to the sheriff's office," he said. "We can't find some of those things. But we can find all the vehicles and that's what I'm more concerned about anything else."

That's especially important, because Forté plans to get rid of some of the surplus.

"We're going keep some things on hand to make sure we can serve our community like we need to serve our community as well as keep our staff safe," he said.

Forté points out this idea was in the works way before protests calling for the demilitarization of police, but he believes it's even more important now.

"It's plausible that this could improve the reputation of various police departments as they give some of the equipment back," Lowande said.

In the near future, the surplus equipment in the sheriff's office possession will be auctioned off or donated to other law enforcement agencies.

"Our money will probably come from those $20,000 worth of trailers that were purchased for those boats, so we might be able to recover some money for that and we can put that money back in our coffers," Forté said.