By SABRA HOEPPNER
(WARRENSBURG, Mo., digitalBURG) – The Warrensburg Police Department is looking for some armored support.
Chief Bruce Howey said the department has applied for a mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicle, known as MRAP, through the Defense Logistics Agency’s 1033 Program.
The 1033 Program was created with the National Defense Authorization Act in 1990 and authorized the transfer of excess Department of Defense property to federal and state agencies for counter-drug activities, according to the Defense Logistics Agency website.
Congress later passed the National Defense Authorization Act in 1997, which allows all law enforcement agencies to acquire excess property for use in combative situations. First preference for property is given to counter-drug and counter-terrorism requests, according to the website.
Howey said the department has already acquired flex-cuffs and ballistics helmets through the 1033 program. He said they have applied and are in line to receive an MRAP. The only cost would be incurred from getting the vehicle to Warrensburg.
“This is not something that is going to be out on the streets,” Howey said.
Howey said the MRAP model they are interested in has four wheels and is valued at about $500,000.
He said the MRAP would only be utilized in high-risk situations, such as an armed and barricaded individual.
He said these items could be used to protect both officers and citizens in a potential active-shooter situation.
“We may never need to utilize it or any of the items,” Howey said. “But if we don’t have it within short distance, we won’t be able to procure it in an emergency situation.”
He said the type of equipment available through the 1033 program is broad.
“We could have a dog on a helicopter under 1033 if we were silver-tongued enough to put it on paper,” Howey said. “But you know what, there is no need.”
Howey said he sent an officer to Jefferson City to pick up the flex-cuffs and paid shipping charges to receive the ballistics helmets. He said when the MRAP becomes available he will send trained personnel to the location to drive it back.
In the wake of the recent events in Ferguson, Missouri, the 1033 Program has received a substantial amount of attention and criticism.
Howey said everyone must have accountability, just as the police need to police themselves. He said that is why he has maintained strict hiring standards, even if it means being short officers.
According to the Associated Press, President Obama addressed the topic Monday in a meeting with elected officials, law enforcement officials and community and faith leaders in Washington. Obama said he wants to ensure the U.S isn’t building a militarized culture within police departments by offering these types of federal programs.
Obama doesn’t want to repeal the program authorized by Congress, according to the Associated Press. Instead, he wants to ask Congress for funding to purchase 50,000 body cameras for police officers to wear while on duty.
Howey said he sees pros and cons regarding officers wearing body cameras. He said there are a lot of considerations to take into account before taking that step. He said his department will review test evaluations of body cameras eventually, but at this point it is not a priority.
Howey said he’s heard of some departments where body cameras have helped to reduce the number of citizen complaints and use of force situations. However, he said his department doesn’t encounter those problems very often.
“Public trust is so critically important,” Howey said. “It’s not given to you, it’s earned and it doesn’t happen overnight.”
In order for law enforcement agencies to receive items through the 1033 program, they must send an application to the Law Enforcement Support Office. Once approved, law enforcement agencies can visit the DLA Disposition Services Site to screen for specific items they want to acquire. Then, they must submit a request with justification for each item.
Agencies are required to maintain an audit trail for each item and conduct inventory checks. They are also responsible for all transportation or shipping costs of the items.