7 Investigates: Guns, armor, vehicles sent from the military for - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

7 Investigates: Guns, armor, vehicles sent from the military for use in East Texas

Longview police acquired this Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicle, or 'MRAP', from the military's 1033 program. (Source: KLTV) Longview police acquired this Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicle, or 'MRAP', from the military's 1033 program. (Source: KLTV)
Eustace police acquired two humvees from the military for use in poor weather or to catch a suspect off-road. (Source: KLTV) Eustace police acquired two humvees from the military for use in poor weather or to catch a suspect off-road. (Source: KLTV)
Eustace Police Chief Ken Holder shows an M-16 the department received from a military program. (Source: KLTV) Eustace Police Chief Ken Holder shows an M-16 the department received from a military program. (Source: KLTV)
EUSTACE, TX (KLTV) - The sights and sounds of the protests and police reaction in Ferguson, Missouri, are not something we are used to seeing in middle America. But the firepower and gear police in Missouri -- and in East Texas -- have, could be provided directly from the federal government. 

It is a part of the Department of Defense's 1033 program, which allows law enforcement agencies to request and receive items from the military that are no longer in use.

The program is in use nationwide, including in East Texas. KLTV 7 Investigates surveyed data from the Department of Defense and found departments across the state received more than $132 million in items from the military. That includes one of the pricier items, the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle, or MRAP. 

Want to find out how much your county has received in the program? Click Here

Longview police's MRAP was received earlier this year at no cost to the department.

"How it is now is how we received it," Officer Kristie Brian said. "There was no expense to the citizens to actually acquire the vehicle."

Agencies in Anderson, Gregg, Nacogdoches, Smith and Van Zandt Counties all requested and received the vehicles which resemble a tank-like vehicle.

The program is not just armored vehicles but items like laptops, cell phones and office supplies that would otherwise be collecting dust.

One agency in East Texas that has saved on items through the program is the Eustace Police Department.

Chief Ken Holder said his department typically has an annual budget of around $100,000. His department, over the past few years, has received items worth $707,000, or seven times his annual budget.

The department has used the 1033 program to receive weapons, humvees and other machinery. One unique project Eustace is working on is turning a waste water treatment plant into a firing range to keep officers in-town to train, instead of having to leave the city or county to train.

The 1033 program has no strict regulations in place, except when a department is done with the equipment, they are asked to return it to the Department of Defense. No training is required on the weapons or vehicles departments receive from the department. However, Longview Police said the MRAP will have two 'operators' who will go to a school to learn how to use the vehicle properly.

Eustace police have even used their off-road vehicles to assist other agencies who were stuck in the mud on calls in poor weather.

With the added firepower and armored vehicles hitting departments across the country, groups like the American Civil Liberties Union are asking if the 1033 program is turning local police departments into a military police force. However, East Texas law enforcement said the threat they face is real and happens more than the public might notice.

"Two to three times per year we face an armed suspect," Chief Holder said. "We're not trying to militarize, but we want to have the tools in our toolbox to respond to the situation."

Holder, who has spent years working in law enforcement in Henderson County, remembers an incident in 2007 that many in area law enforcement will never forget: A situation wherein two Henderson County deputies were gunned down at their patrol cars when responding to a call near Payne Springs.

"He [Randall Mays] sat up on these officers and shot both of them before they could get a few steps away from their vehicles," Holder said.

Mays now sits on Texas Death Row. His execution is scheduled for March 2015.

Holder said he does not know if things would have been different that day if more firepower and armor were available, but he said today they have to prepare for the worst.

"I wish we didn't have to have armored vehicles. I wish we didn't have a need for patrol rifles," he said. "The bad guys have [high-powered ammunition]… and they have more than what we have.

Georgia Congressman Hank Johnson said he plans to file legislation to reform the 1033 program, saying, "My bill will end the free transfers of certain aggressive military equipment to local police and ensure that all equipment can be accounted for."

Johnson is currently circulating a letter for support of the legislation, which has not yet been introduced.

Copyright 2014 KLTV. All rights reserved.

  • NewsMore>>

  • Balloons were released for a missing person

    Balloons were released for a missing person

    Sunday, May 20 2018 11:20 PM EDT2018-05-21 03:20:29 GMT
    A commemoration of a 29-year-old mystery, the disappearance of an East Texas girl without a trace was held in an East Texas city. The family of Kimberly Norwood gathered in Marshall to keep hope alive that somehow answers can be found concerning her disappearance. Norwood was just 12-years-old when she disappeared from Hallsville, on the evening of May 20, 1989,"It doesn't sound real to say 29 years I mean. I just want to ask everybody to keep the prayers coming for us and Kim ...More >>
    A commemoration of a 29-year-old mystery, the disappearance of an East Texas girl without a trace was held in an East Texas city. The family of Kimberly Norwood gathered in Marshall to keep hope alive that somehow answers can be found concerning her disappearance. Norwood was just 12-years-old when she disappeared from Hallsville, on the evening of May 20, 1989,"It doesn't sound real to say 29 years I mean. I just want to ask everybody to keep the prayers coming for us and Kim ...More >>
  • Two people confirmed dead after fatal wreck on Highway 11

    Two people confirmed dead after fatal wreck on Highway 11

    Sunday, May 20 2018 7:53 PM EDT2018-05-20 23:53:03 GMT

    One person was killed in a fatal crash in Hopkins County Saturday morning.

    More >>

    One person was killed in a fatal crash in Hopkins County Saturday morning.

    More >>
  • Dakar Burkes Memorial Car Show held in Louisiana

    Dakar Burkes Memorial Car Show held in Louisiana

    Saturday, May 19 2018 10:01 PM EDT2018-05-20 02:01:04 GMT
    The roar of high power engines and vintage classic automobiles were on display in one East Texas city, in an annual tribute to a young man, who was a homicide victim, who loved cars. The 9th annual Dakar Burkes memorial car show was held in Lakeport. Racers came in from thunder road Louisiana, as well as collectors from all over the state, to be part of the memorial car show. "They called us, invited us to this event, the cars behind us they run at that track so we brought the...More >>
    The roar of high power engines and vintage classic automobiles were on display in one East Texas city, in an annual tribute to a young man, who was a homicide victim, who loved cars. The 9th annual Dakar Burkes memorial car show was held in Lakeport. Racers came in from thunder road Louisiana, as well as collectors from all over the state, to be part of the memorial car show. "They called us, invited us to this event, the cars behind us they run at that track so we brought the...More >>
Powered by Frankly