WMBF Investigates: Local law enforcement using hundreds of pieces of military surplus equipment

WMBF Investigates: Local law enforcement using hundreds of pieces of military surplus equipment

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Local law enforcement agencies now have access to surplus military gear restricted for more than two years after a President Barack Obama executive order banned the sale of armored vehicles, bayonets, grenade launchers and certain weapons.

President Donald Trump reversed the ban with an executive order of his own Monday.

The Defense Logistic Agency runs the Law Enforcement Support Office. A WMBF News investigation analyzed data from the agency's most recent quarterly update that shows participating agencies and the military equipment those agencies hold.

Nineteen agencies within the six South Carolina counties in the WMBF News viewing area have acquired $7,506,222.51 worth of military supplies since June 1996 through 932 granted requests.

Using the program

No local agency has had more requests granted than the Dillon Police Department. It has had 174 granted requests for 888 items worth $418,357.49.

Police Chief David Lane says any equipment that comes from the program is valuable.

"There's no question it takes a huge strain off us," Chief Lane said. "It's equipment we wouldn't have otherwise.

Lane says the department was able to use it Humvee during recent flooding events, calling it a "huge asset."

The highest dollar granted request for the agency came in the form of shop equipment, electrical equipment and a semi-trailer mounted worth $225,000. It was shipped May 21, 2015. It was also the most recent granted request for Dillon Police.

As far as requesting items now allowed thanks to the President Trump order, Lane says it probably won't happen.

"We don't have a real need for those things," he said.

Mine-resistant vehicles

The Florence County Sheriff's Office has the most valuable military equipment locally. Its 104 granted requests add up to $1,930,606.93. The haul for the agency includes a mine-resistant vehicle worth $658,000 and two MK3MOD0's, robots that can dispose of bombs, valued at $183,329 each.

The mine-resistant vehicle in used by Horry County Police is the most valuable piece of military equipment locally, priced at $733,000. It was shipped to the department in May 2014. The Obama-era change required new justifications for equipment like this. The Myrtle Beach Police Department got one in April 2016, the Darlington County Sheriff's Office also has one. MBPD says it's used for swift water rescue, SWAT situations and other critical incidents.

Pending and canceled requests

WMBF News also found the pending shipments for requests already approved. Florence Regional Airport Police is waiting on a HMMWV, or Humvee, and Lake View Police was approved for a Humvee and cargo truck.

Information from the DLA also details requests canceled. Lake View Police requested two trailers the agency said would be used as a mobile command center and sleeping quarters for officers in the event of a natural disaster. That's among the 45 canceled requests for the department.

Florence Regional Airport Police requested three trucks to be used for perimeter patrol, replacement of an existing truck and a water pump in the event of a weapon of mass destruction or terrorism incident.

A request for an excavator was canceled, the Darlington County Sheriff's Office says it was going to be used for its firing range renovation. The record shows that was a request made in August 2015. The DCSO tells WMBF News the equipment was requested by the previous sheriff and is not needed.

MORE: Below is a PDF documenting all military equipment currently owned by local law enforcement agencies:

Copyright 2017 WMBF News. All Rights Reserved.