Law enforcement geared up in Arkansas

Updated: Jul. 8, 2020 at 10:06 PM CDT
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JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - The 1033 program through the United States Department of Defense allows law enforcement agencies across the county to purchase excess military grade equipment at dirt cheap prices.

At least 22 agencies in Region 8 have purchased a wide-range of items from the program. Items include computer, generators, rifles, washing machines, and even mine-resistant vehicles.

According to data from the DOD, 28 mine resistant vehicles have been purchased by the following Arkansas law enforcement agencies:

  • Bella Vista Police Department
  • Benton County Sheriff’s Office (Bentonville) (2)
  • Bentonville Police Department
  • Bryant Police Department
  • Cabot Police Department
  • Craighead County Sheriff's Office (Jonesboro)
  • Crawford County Sheriff’s Office (Van Buren)
  • Crittenden County Sheriff's Office (West Memphis)
  • Faulkner County Sheriff's Office (Conway)
  • Fort Smith Police Department
  • Hope Police Department
  • Hot Springs Police Department
  • Jacksonville Police Department
  • Jefferson County Sheriff's Office (Pine Pluff)
  • Little Rock Police Department (2)
  • Lonoke County Sheriff's Office (Lonoke)
  • Mississippi County Sheriff's Office (Luxora)
  • North Little Rock Police Department
  • Prairie Grove Police Department
  • Pulaski County Sheriff's Office (Little Rock)
  • Saline County Sheriff's Office (2) (Benton)
  • Springdale Police Department (2)
  • Texarkana Police Department
  • Union County Sheriff’s Office (El Dorado)

The Craighead County Sheriff’s Department is among the list agencies with a mine resistant vehicle at the department’s disposal.

Sheriff Marty Boyd said the department purchased the vehicle in 2014, at no cost to taxpayers.

“We purchased it by drug forfeiture seizures,” Boyd said. “So, basically, you can say our area drug dealers that we confiscated money from purchased this vehicle for us for officer’s protection.”

Boyd said he does not argue that police departments have militarized to some degree, compared to 40 years ago.

“But also, I can say the threat level has changed,” Boyd said. “We can’t show up to a situation and be out matched is what it comes down to.”

It is a big reason Boyd purchased the mine resistant vehicle known as a Caiman. It is easily the Craighead County Sheriff’s Department’s most eye catching purchase through the DOD 1033 program.

“When we purchased the MRP (mine-resistant personnel carrier), we had that theory here where we were trying to be military police enforcement no telling what we were going to do with it,” Boyd said. “We’re going to go out and start taking people’s guns away from them and that’s why we purchased it. I heard all kinds of stuff. You know, the only answer I can give is I think we’ve had it now for 6 years. I don’t think anyone has seen that happen (laughing) and that’s not the case.”

The mine resistant vehicle has been deployed eight times since the sheriff’s department began keeping records three years ago.

It was deployed twice to respond to natural disasters, including the March 28th tornado in Jonesboro.

At least five call-outs were in coordination with SWAT involving search warrants and standoffs. There is also the incident on the Arkansas State University campus in 2015. The mine-resistant vehicle was deployed to assist law enforcement after a suspect drove onto campus with a weapon claiming to have an explosive.

“I believe personally if we are going to take on threat, we need to have the upper hand in that threat,” Boyd said. “I don’t want to be out matched. So, if there’s something that I think I can use in my department that’s going to help us quickly end, safety end that situation. I’m going to use it every time.”

Jonesboro Police Chief Rick Elliott said the mine-resistant vehicle played an integral part in leading to a positive outcome.

“It gave our negotiators a chance to talk to him closer instead of trying to yell,” Elliott said. “Fortunately, the incident had a good resolution that he surrendered his weapon and came out and was taken peacefully. If the county didn’t have something like this, would I be looking to purchase something like this...absolutely.” The 1033 program has saved the Craighead County thousands of dollars over the years and goes beyond military style equipment.

Boyd said the department has purchased personal protective equipment and generators through the 1033 program, which came in handy at the commander center set up after the Jonesboro tornado in late March.

They were also able to get $50,000 worth of tasers for just $600. It allowed Boyd to equip every deputy within his department.

“The program allowed us to outfit every officer with a taser here at Craighead County,” Boyd said. “Without that program and finding those on the DOD system, Craighead County just simply couldn’t afford to outfit all of our deputies with a taser at that kind of cost.”

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