The Norman Transcript

Nation/World

August 1, 2013

Giveaways going wild

(Continued)

MORVEN, Ga. —

He also received a shipment of bayonets, which never made it out of storage.

“That was one of those things in the old days you got it because you thought it was cool,” Yates said of his bayonets. “Then, after you get it, you’re like, ‘What the hell am I going to do with this?’ “

Morven isn’t the only example of a giveaway program gone wild: Before his firing earlier this year for an unrelated matter, the police chief in Rising Star, Texas — the only full-time officer in the town of 835 residents — acquired more than $3.2 million worth of property within 14 months. According to an inventory obtained by the AP, the hundreds of items included nine televisions, 11 computers, three deep-fat fryers, two meat slicers, 22 large space heaters valued at $55,000 when new, a pool table, 25 sleeping bags and playground equipment.

Federal officials suspended Rising Star from the program in March after investigators discovered that many items — including 12 pairs of binoculars — were missing from police department facilities.

“He was getting any kind of equipment he wanted,” Rising Star city attorney Pat Chesser said. “I don’t understand why anyone city would get that amount.”

Big ideas, small results:

Known for its speed trap and annual peach festival, Morven also has been one of the most prolific users of the Defense Department program, getting more than $4 million worth of goods over the past decade.

The spoils have included 20 blankets, 10 two-man combat tents, a hammock, four demagnetizers, two leg curl machines, a shoulder press, a leg press, two treadmills, 20 red gym shorts, 20 fitted bed sheets, 50 flat bed sheets and 355 sandbags.

Yates conceded there isn’t much crime and acknowledged that his officers spend most of their time on traffic enforcement.

“This is probably one of the last quiet small Southern towns left in this area,” he said. “Even my worst drug dealer here, if I was broke down on the side of the road, they would stop and help.”

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