The Colorado Springs Police Department acquired free Humvees through the 1033 Program.
The Colorado Springs Police Department acquired free Humvees through the 1033 Program.
The Colorado Springs Police Department acquired free Humvees through the 1033 Program.
The Colorado Springs Police Department acquired free Humvees through the 1033 Program.

According to Lt. Catherine Buckley, public information officer for the Colorado Springs Police Department, it’s the ultimate recycling program.

“We’re taking stuff we can actually use,” Buckley said of the Department of Defense’s 1033 Program, which makes available free surplus or unused equipment to state and local governments, including the Colorado Springs Police Department, the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office and the Colorado State Patrol. “We’re leveraging equipment to be used again, and citizens aren’t paying for it a second time.”

Through the 1033 Program, as well as the Defense Reutilization and Marketing Office and Defense Logistics Agency programs, law enforcement agencies have had access to military “hard” and “soft” goods for decades.

“Most items we receive are soft good items like winter hats, clothing, MREs [Meals Ready to Eat]. We also obtained seven Humvees, five for each of our service stations and two for parts,” Lt. Sal Fiorillo said, adding the vehicles were procured in 2013, painted and deployed to patrol substations to be used for weather-related events and evacuations such as floods, fires and snowstorms.

“During a blizzard in 1997, our substations couldn’t get cops in or out for 24 hours straight,” Buckley said, adding the military provided vehicles to assist in the transit of personnel and to rescue stranded motorists and residents. Now the department has the emergency capabilities of the military that, at one time, required outside assistance.

Chopper shop

Fiorillo said the department’s vehicles are not armored, but armored vehicles are an option through the program.

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“It’s possible to acquire large armored vehicles that will withstand a roadside bomb like those in Iraq and Afghanistan,” he said, adding CSPD didn’t request an armored personnel vehicle because, “We don’t need something like that here.”

Fiorillo said, despite not being outfitted for enforcement purposes, the Humvees could be used during critical incidents which include barricaded subjects, active shooters or hostage situations. 

One of the larger acquisitions by the department through the 1033 Program was two usable Vietnam-era Bell helicopters and a third helicopter obtained for parts in the 1990s. The usable helicopters, which were obtained at no cost to the department, were sold in 2010 for approximately $350,000 after the fleet was grounded in 2009 because of a lack of funding.

Buckley said the department’s regional crime lab also received a $25,000 microscope from Ft. Carson.

Buckley provided a list of all CSPD government program acquisitions, which include:

• Fleece pants

• Backpacks with rain gear

• Sleeping bags

• Optics

• Conex box (Shipping container now used for range storage)

• Gator (All-terrain vehicle)

• Seven Humvees (Two used for spare parts)

• 140 M-16 A1 rifles outfitted for patrol

• 14 M-14 rifles maintained by Tactical Enforcement (SWAT)

Sgt. Greg White, public information officer with the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office, said that agency has received via the program 44 5.56mm patrol rifles, four 7.62mm rifles for special operations and a search and rescue cargo carrier vehicle.

Rank and file

According to records provided by Michelle McCaskill of the Defense Logistic Agency’s public affairs office, the 1033 Program “was authorized by Congress … to authorize the transfer of excess DoD personal property to federal and state agencies for use in counter-drug activities. In addition, the National Defense Authorization Act for 1996-1997, Section 1033 authorized the transfer of excess DoD personal property to federal and state agencies in the execution of law enforcement activities to include counter-drug and counter-terrorism missions.”

McCaskill said the DLA has managed the program since October 1995 and today, all 1033 Program requests are managed by the DLA Disposition Services Law Enforcement Support Office, or LESO, in Battle Creek, Mich.

McCaskill said transfers typically involve office equipment, blankets, sleeping bags, computers, digital cameras, aircraft, boats and weapons and that more than 8,000 federal, state and local law enforcement agencies participate in the program.

“Ninety-five percent of all the equipment provided to law enforcement agencies through the program are not weapons and fewer than 1 percent of transfers are tactical vehicles,” she explained, adding the DLA has determined that 103 federal stock classes of supply are not suitable for law enforcement activities because of their “offensive characteristics, including tanks, Bradley fighting vehicles, drones, submarines and crew served weapons … These items are never made available to the law enforcement agencies for transfer.”

Since 2006, the value of tactical and non-tactical equipment transferred to El Paso County law enforcement agencies is nearly $750,000, according to DLA documents. The acquisition cost is the value of the item when it was last purchased, the documents state.

Equipment distributed to agencies throughout Colorado ranged from $2 and change for cold-weather glove inserts acquired by the Cañon City Police Department to a $733,000 mine-resistant vehicle obtained by Weld County.

Information provided by the DLA stated law enforcement agencies  “must meet certain criteria to be accepted into the program and all requests for property are screened locally — initially at the [law enforcement agency], then by a state coordinator, and finally by LESO.”   

According to McCaskill, three law enforcement agencies in Colorado are currently suspended from the program. Those agencies are the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office for not completing the required FY13 annual inventory, as well as the Colorado State Patrol’s Denver unit and the Elbert County Sheriff’s Office.

“The matter involving these agencies has been referred to the DLA Office of Inspector General for investigation,” McCaskill said.

He added that the DLA won’t comment on pending investigations.