Morven PD defends its donated military equipment - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Morven PD defends its donated military equipment

MORVEN, GA (WALB) -

A small town police chief defends his department's acceptance of millions of dollars worth of surplus military equipment.

An Associated Press investigation suggested much of the equipment is wasted on agencies that don't need it.

The police chief in Morven agrees that the government program needs more oversight, but he says his town couldn't run without the donated equipment.

Everything from a backhoe and a street sweeper, to night vision goggles, the Morven Police Department has accumulated more than $4 million worth of surplus equipment over the years. And every single item is a hand-me-down from the military.

"There's no way the we could afford 90-percent of the equipment we have got from this program. I fully back this program," said Morven Police Chief Lynwood Yates.

With a downsizing military the national giveaway program is a way for small law enforcement agencies to rack up surplus military gear at no cost. Most of the equipment given away is about a decade old. Chief Yates estimates his stuff is now worth $200,000-$300,000.

But it's getting the job done. Thursday we spotted city workers out with an old military dump truck laying gravel on the streets.

"It's mind numbing how much equipment is out there that's surplus," said Yates.

While Yates says there is some lack of oversight by the military in who gets what, he says he's going to take advantage of what he can get.

"Everyone has the same opportunity, everyone has the same chance at getting this equipment. I don't get equipment that I don't need or I'm not going to use. And if I do end up with something I'll either transfer it to another agency that can use it or I'll turn it back in," said Yates.

And while there is some equipment that sits as junk -- "You'll have some stuff that is compete junk; it's just the nature of the beast you don't really know." -- Other things like the 8 patrol vehicles he's received keep this small town safe and running.

The AP report questioned whether Morven should have gotten SCUBA gear and boats through the program since there's really no water in town.

Chief Yates says he's using that equipment to start Brooks County's first law enforcement dive team.

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