Law Enforcement Use of Government Surplus

Recently, President Trump repealed the Obama executive order that restricted the government surplus that law enforcement agencies are allowed to use. There naturally has been an uptick on posts on FB and forums across the net, as well as here. This post is a little background and perspective on that equipment from someone that’s been lucky enough to have it available to make my job and my service to the public better.

I’ve been a part of agencies that have participated in 10-33/DRMO/DLA programs over the years, and have been on the receiving end of getting to reuse gear purchased by taxpayers that would likely have gone to a shredder if my agency didn’t take it. I’ve gotten brand new-in-the-wrapper cold weather fleece that was getting tossed because it was no longer an approved uniform color. I’ve gotten old uniforms that I was able to use for training purposes or for bad scenes where clothing gets thrown away afterwards because the smell won’t come out, thus saving my duty uniforms. I’ve gotten ammunition bandoleers that allowed me to equip numerous squad cars with a quick grab-bag of two magazines, gun shot supplies, and a drag strap. I’ve gotten old ALICE rucks that were used to carry equipment overland a couple miles for a long term criminal investigation. I’ve gotten Aimpoint optics that saved my agency not only tax payer funds, but also from ignorant mindsets of putting a Truglow red dot on a rifle, because the local store had a special for $50.

Sometimes equipment is brand or like new. Other times, it’s at the end of its useful life if not obsolete, and we are merely squeaking that last little bit out of it to make our own budgets stretch as much as possible.

And just because something is armored, it does not make it a tank, and it does not mean it’s government surplus. I have yet to see anything multicam come through the DLA.

My agency maintains an armored HUMVEE vehicle that I personally have driven through flood waters to rescue people. It’s also stood ready during snow storms in case medical personnel needed to get driven to work at our area hospitals, or in case our EMS could not get to an emergency.

My local depot was getting rid of a large, 4WD pumper/tanker fire truck used at an airfield. The acquisition of this DRMO item allowed an agency to deal with the issue of a bridge construction that literally divided the city into two. The staging of this pumper allowed adequate fire protection to be available on both sides of the city instead of the side where the fire station was. This truck also has been used locally to assist with flood rescues.

I laughed when Obama banned the bayonets and grenade launchers. It was sheer ignorance. There hasn’t been a single grenade launcher available through the DLA acquisition site. None. They don’t show up. Bayonets are nothing more than tools, pry bars, and items that can be used as such a tool.

Militarization of the police? From a fire truck? From black fleece?

I find that people who criticize such things usually have ulterior motives in their criticisms, and often can’t find anything good to say about police efforts.

The DLA programs have largely been positive towards the public. It’s one of those things that is hard to actually quantify the positive impact, until images such as Houston are so overwhelming that the use of it can’t be ignored.


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