‘We have it for those unthinkable circumstances’: Myrtle Beach PD’s armored vehicles acquired through ‘1033 Program’

Published: Jun. 24, 2021 at 11:26 AM EDT|Updated: Jun. 24, 2021 at 11:28 AM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) – Included in the Myrtle Beach Police Department’s arsenal for protecting the community are armored vehicles, weapons, laptops, robots and more.

They’ve acquired the equipment over the years through the federal government’s 1033 Program, an initiative that allows police agencies to request and receive property turned in by U.S. military units that the Department of Defense no longer needs.

MPBD is one of at least 8,200 federal, state and local law enforcement agencies participating in the program, according to the DoD’s Defense Logistics Agency. MBPD MCpl. Tom Vest said the department has participated for the last 10 or so years.

“If it’s something we need, we apply for it, get approval, and we’re responsible for getting the equipment here,” he explained. “We end up with a lot of equipment that comes to us at no cost or very little cost to the Myrtle Beach taxpayers.”

The kind of equipment they can request is incredibly diverse. The DLA’s offerings range from something as routine as office furniture, to something as high-tech as IED robots and armored vehicles.

“For us, it’s been huge,” said Vest. “This program has allowed us to get items that really we wouldn’t have been able to budget for otherwise.”

Over the years, MBPD has acquired nearly $2 million worth of controlled items - equipment that isn’t available to be sold to the general public. That includes their MRAP, rifles, Humvee, and night vision goggles. Though the MRAP cost the federal government about $689,000, MBPD paid less than $3,000 for it to be delivered for their use, Vest said. What’s left is typical maintenance costs, something the city’s shop is able to handle.

“If you see it out driving around, chances are good we’re driving it once a month to make sure it still runs well and we keep the fluids going. But if we need it, we need it,” Vest said.

The armored vehicles give Myrtle Beach officers the ability to respond to scenes and areas that would be extremely dangerous for a traditional patrol vehicle.

“It can withstand a significant amount of gunfire,” Vest said about the MRAP. “And if we’re using this to deflect gunfire and get people to safety - then it’s worth every penny that we’ve spent on it, and every minute that we’ve owned it.”

The department has gathered other equipment, like LMTVs, laptops, robots, cameras, scuba diving gear, and dry suits. The items essentially come as-is, and can at times even bring extra things in the box that the agency wasn’t expecting, like a hypothermia-preventing survival suit. Some pieces of equipment may arrive needing so many parts that it’s not worth paying to fix. Other items, like the camcorder Vest showed us that runs with a cassette tape, still have the tags on.

What the department doesn’t need or sees as too expensive to fix, it’s able to either transfer to another law enforcement agency, send it back to the government, or sell, provided it’s not a controlled item.

Though the MRAP’s use in American streets has drawn controversy, having it at their disposal has been critical in the rare occasions its pulled from the garage.

“We don’t have the ability to say we can’t go because we don’t have the equipment,” Vest said. “The armored vehicles give us the ability to respond to scenes and areas where a normal response would be extremely dangerous, if not futile - whether it’s an active shooter, or some kind of large-scale incident - we have the equipment to do that.”

Copyright 2021 WMBF. All rights reserved.