MORVEN, Ga. —
The chief said he doesn’t use the program much these days because he “pretty much” has gotten what he needed. “Another department may need something. I don’t want to get in there and be a pig.”
Yates said he routinely teams up with the local Brooks County Sheriff’s Department, but the sheriff’s chief deputy disputed that.
“We assist Morven. They don’t assist us,” Major Joe Wheeler said. “They’re a one-horse town.”
Wheeler said the county relies on a dive team from neighboring Lowndes County for any water rescues and can call in the state Department of Natural Resources if a corpse needs to be recovered from the water.
“We don’t depend on Morven for anything,” he added. “If we felt like we needed a dive team, the sheriff’s office would create one.”
Free, but not problem-free:
Nearly 13,000 agencies in all 50 states and four U.S. territories participate is what’s commonly called the 1033 Program, after a section of the National Defense Authorization Act that permits the transfer to law enforcement agencies of military property no longer needed. The program has grown drastically in recent years, due in large part to the scaling down of the military from two wars, tight local-government operating budgets and eligibility expansion in 1996 to include all state and local law enforcement work. In fiscal year 2012, a record $546 million worth of property was transferred.
Property is accepted on an as-is, where-is and first-come, first-serve basis. The receiving law enforcement entity bears all transportation and maintenance costs. None of the gifted property can be sold or leased without permission, or stockpiled. Personal use is barred.
Applications are handled by state coordinators. Overall command, including the responsibility to root out abuse, is handled by an office at the Defense Logistics Agency in Battle Creek, Mich. Law enforcement agencies have been suspended for flagrant violations, such as selling property for a profit, transferring weapons without permission or failing to notify officials about lost or stolen weapons.