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Almost 13,000 agencies in all 50 states and four U.S. territories have been participating in a military “recycling” program. The share of equipment and weaponry ’gifted’ each year continues to expand. Since the early 1990s, over $5 billion worth of equipment has been transferred from the Defense Department to domestic police agencies through the ’Law Enforcement Support Office 1033’ (LESO) program. This, in addition to various other programs supposedly aimed at fighting the so-called ’War on Drugs’ and ’War on Terror’.
In comparison, The Department of Homeland Security has delivered roughly $34 billion to police departments throughout the country since 9/11. The allocations are ostensibly earmarked towards purchases of more gear for law enforcement agencies’ steadily growing arsenals of military weapons and equipment.
Military trucks, grenade launchers, helicopters and high-powered rifles are just some of the items some Florida law enforcement have obtained. Over the last 10 years, 10 Northeast Florida agencies have received $6.3 million worth of military equipment.
That means a bullet proof and mine-resistant tank built for war is now on the front lines in Baker County, Fla. The Baker County Sheriff’s Office said the equipment is less about handling riots and more about rescue missions.
According to The Statesman, the county recently acquired the vehicle through the LESO 1033 program. It gives local law enforcement agencies equipment the military doesn’t want or need anymore.
“Having something like this, I don’t know that you can put a price on it,” said police officer Volz. The Baker County Sheriff’s Office hopes grant money will pay for some small modifications, then deputies will be trained on it. “We hope that there’s not a situation that we have to have an armored vehicle to protect us from gunfire or other types of things,” added Volz.
The Baker County Sheriff’s department isn’t the only Florida law enforcement agency using the LESO 1033 program. Over the past 10 years, plenty of police and sheriff’s departments in Northeast Florida have received millions of dollars worth of military-grade gear.
The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office received two helicopters through the LESO 1033 program; eight utility trucks went to Putnam County; an explosive disposal robot went to the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office, and Bradford County got military rifles.
The equipment may come at a minimal cost, but each agency is responsible for maintenance.