Eustace PD received $707K worth from 1033 federal plan
By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer
EUSTACE–The Eustace Police Department is the fifth police department to be suspended from the Department of Defense 1033 Program that provides military surplus to law enforcement agencies.
According to news reports the Defense Logistics Agency enacted the suspension Sept. 8 and turned the case over to its Office of Inspector General for investigation.
Eustace Police Chief Ken Holder was terminated by the city council Sept. 4 for “violations of the employee handbook and police department code of conduct.”
City officials have said they cannot comment further on said violations.
Eustace Police Department’s property room underwent an inventory conducted by the Texas Rangers Sept. 8 to “determine whether the department has adequate controls over seized property, drugs, and evidence to ensure that they are tracked and safeguarded.”
An independent audit was asked for as a result of the removal of the police chief; to establish a baseline for an incoming police chief to begin,” Department of Public Safety spokesperson Jean Dark said Tuesday in a statement.
During an Aug. 7 meeting of the Eustace City Council, no action was taken on an agenda item referring to the 1033 program. Council members were to discuss and vote on an appraisal of equipment procured through the program. The Monitor was informed that no inventory of 1033 equipment was available for the council to review at that time.
According to DLA records obtained by KLTV 7, the Eustace Police Department received $707,000 worth of equipment from the program.
Those items ranged from a truck tractor worth $166,233 to M-16 rifles and even an elliptical issued to the police department.
Federal review called
The federal program has come under scrutiny after the heavy police presence and response in Ferguson, Missouri, following the officer-involved shooting of a young man. After those incidents, President Barack Obama ordered a review of the program.
On Aug. 19, Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby acknowledged the “hard job” law enforcement officers are engaged in and that some of the equipment they get through this program makes their job a little easier.
Several groups oppose the 1033 program, including one in Texas.
Anton Montoya of Stop1033.org points out that smaller communities often lack the needed oversight that would recognize misuse or abuse of the military equipment.
Proposed law introduced
Tuesday, Representative Hank Johnson (D-GA) and Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID) introduced the Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act of 2014. The bill would place restrictions and transparency measures on the 1033 program.
They contend that the program “blurs the line between military and civilian policing,” presenting public safety issues and undermines the right of the accused to due process of law.
The Act would:
• prevent transfers of equipment inappropriate for local policing, such as high-caliber weapons, long-range acoustic devices, grenade launchers, drones, armored vehicles, etc.
• end incentives to use equipment in circumstances when the use is unnecessary. (Removing the requirement departments must use equipment within one year of receipt)
• require agencies certify they can account for all equipment.
• add requirements to enforce tracking of equipment and transfers to agencies.