Pentagon Orders AZ Sheriff to Retrieve Loaned Military Surplus Items

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A Pentagon agency that oversees surplus military goods has ordered the Pinal County, Az., Sheriff to retrieve hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of merchandise it had requisitioned and then “loaned” to non-police organizations in violation of the program’s rules, the Arizona Republic reports. The Defense Logistics Agency decision came days after the Republic reported that Sheriff Paul Babeu was distributing Humvees, firetrucks, medical equipment, and other supplies to Pinal County agencies.

Unused military goods are distributed through the so-called 1033 Program operated by the Defense Logistics Agency’s Law Enforcement Services Office. It is designed to help fight crime while saving American tax dollars. Nationwide, 12,000 police organizations are able to procure excess military merchandise — firearms, computers, helicopters, clothing, and hundreds of other products — at no charge. In fiscal 2011, they acquired nearly $500 million worth of items. As a result of the Republic’s investigation, the Defense Department suspended the distribution of surplus firearms and other combat gear while it examined and tightened inventory-control procedures. That suspension has since been lifted.

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