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Thursday, June 22, 2017

Where has all the government surplus equipment gone

We continuously have contacts ask us where all of the surplus equipment is that Sheriff Franklin had Danny McDaniels obtain from Government surplus?  Danny McDaniels procures the equipment and at one point he sent JP out to obtain the equipment.  Why is the sheriffs office buying multiple 4 wheelers, lawn mowers, golf carts, and other items from surplus and where is all of the equipment housed that Franklin procured?  Has the purchases stopped since the Title Mart went bankrupt?  Have they been logged into MCSO property?

We are fully aware of the $1,700.000.00 military equipment that Franklin Purchased.

Perhaps someone needs to request the records from the General Service Agency (GAO) to get an accurate account of the sheriffs office purchases.

Morgan sheriff: Arsenal of military surplus equipment mainly for disaster relief

  • By Seth Burkett Staff Writer
  •  


    Morgan County Sheriff Ana Franklin said a government program that put surplus military equipment in the hands of local authorities, though criticized by some for militarizing law enforcement, is giving first responders the tools they need for disaster relief.
    Franklin said she doesn’t consider her department, which has received more than $1.7 million in equipment through the Department of Defense’s 1033 program, mostly in recent years, “militarized.”
    “I understand that maybe with everything going on nationally some people may feel that way, but I honestly don’t feel that way,” Franklin said.
    Authorities in Ferguson, Missouri, have used tear gas and armored vehicles in clashes with protesters after the fatal shooting of an unarmed teenager by a police officer.
    That has prompted some in Congress to propose repealing the 1033 program. Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Ga., said he plans to introduce legislation to monitor or eliminate the transfer of military equipment to local law enforcement. On the other side of the aisle, Michigan Republican Rep. Justin Amash took to Facebook to say, “The government escalates tensions with its use of military equipment and tactics.”
    Equipment Morgan County obtained through the 1033 program includes semi-automatic M4 carbine rifles, night-vision equipment, Humvees, helicopters and a 14-ton armored vehicle.
    But most of the items — computers, cots, blankets, forklifts, cargo containers, a water tank, water purifier, microwave, field kitchen and refrigerated truck — have no offensive application.
    “I think that’s what the majority of law enforcement does use this program for, and it’s a huge taxpayer savings,” Franklin said.
    Franklin said she recognized the need for many of those items after the April 27, 2011, tornadoes.
    “That’s when we really started working this program, because we realized how little equipment we have that would allow us to do our jobs as first responders to take care of victims in this county,” she said. “If the federal government is giving away stuff, we’re going to try and get whatever they’re giving away that can help.”
    The only cost to the department is the expense of picking up equipment from military bases where it’s stored until an agency lays claim.
    Alabama’s participation in the program was suspended March 6 because paperwork from some equipment recipients was missing. State officials transferred the program from the Department of Public Safety to the Department of Economic and Community Affairs, which handles other surplus property programs.
    ADECA spokesman Larry Childers said the department determined that no property was missing, but some paperwork was missing. The department is working to try to get the program reinstated, he said.
    The program came under media scrutiny after events in Ferguson. Police wearing camouflage and body armor and toting assault rifles responded to protests on the streets of the St. Louis suburb.
    “I would like to think that nothing like that could happen here, but I’m sure the people of Ferguson never thought that could happen there,” Decatur Councilman Billy Jackson said. “I don’t think you could ever say it would never happen here or it would never happen in our neighboring communities.”
    Jackson said complaints from residents against Decatur police that he’s taken to the chief have always been addressed.
    Decatur attorney Allen Stoner said he’s not aware of any allegations of civil liberties violations tied to the use of military equipment by authorities locally.
    Stoner pointed to the tumult during the 1960s and ’70s, when law enforcement appeared less militarized.
    “Just because you’re carrying an assault rifle or wearing camouflage doesn’t make you more aggressive,” he said.
    Decatur police don’t use the Pentagon program. Spokesman Lt. John Crouch said Decatur chose to buy civilian, semi-automatic AR-15 rifles, which cost $800 to $1,000 instead of obtaining military M16 rifles for free.
    In making that decision, the department weighed public perception of officers carrying automatic weapons and the risk if one of the guns was ever stolen, Crouch said.
    “When an officer opts for a patrol rifle, it’s not for power. It’s for range and accuracy,” Crouch said.
    Franklin said deputies train to shoot the seven M4 rifles obtained from the program, but the guns haven’t been put to use in the field.
    “We haven’t really had a need for them,” she said.
    The guns are kept “locked down and accounted for” in the sheriff’s office, Franklin said.
    Another thing that hasn’t been used is the Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicle the department got in October. The price of gasoline to drive the MRAP from Camp Shelby, Mississippi, to the garage in Priceville where it’s now stored was a drop in the bucket compared to it $412,000 value, authorities said.
    Franklin said the MRAP is a “just in case” vehicle that could be deployed during an active shooter situation to evacuate an area, retrieve victims or safely transport deputies into a dangerous area.
    “We can’t send personnel in unless we have a way to protect them,” she said. “For me, that is no different than a giant bullet-proof vest.”
    In such a situation, timing is critical, the sheriff said.
    “The more that local law enforcement can do in their own community, the less we have to rely on someone else to come in and do it,” Franklin said. “If you have an active shooter, are you going to wait for somebody two counties away or are you going to do something?”
    Other vehicles have seen more use.
    Five Humvees — painted black and adorned with sheriff’s insignia to give them a less-military look — have proven useful in inclement weather because they have four-wheel drive, Franklin said.
    The Sheriff’s Department has two helicopters — one for flying and one for spare parts — and regularly uses the operating chopper in searches for missing persons or suspects.
    The department does not have a Special Weapons and Tactics team, but it does have a tactical entry team, largely comprised of county Drug Task Force agents, to execute search warrants and high-risk felony warrants. Team members are typically outfitted with bullet-proof vests, gloves, boots, flashlights and a shotgun and ram for breaching doors. Rifles are available but rarely used.
    In rare instances, flash bangs or tear gas might be employed, though the department does not use grenade launchers to fire tear gas canisters, Franklin said.
    Because suspected meth labs make up the bulk of the searches, “we have to be very careful with any kind of chemical entry because of the likelihood that it could cause an explosion,” the sheriff said. “I can’t remember ever using tear gas as a routine entry tool.”
    Crouch said Decatur police’s Special Response Unit — its version of SWAT — is deployed four times a year on average. That includes about one drug search warrant per year.
    The Associated Press contributed to this report.
    Seth Burkett can be reached at 256-340-2446 or sburkett@decaturdaily.com. Follow on Twitter @DD_SethBurkett.

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