Recently, the Jasper County Sheriff’s Office deployed its tactical rescue unit, which includes a 25-ton armored vehicle.
The Aug. 14 incident occurred near Baxter, where officers believed a victim was trapped on a property where there was a suspect armed with a gun. The victim was able to get away from the home, but the Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle was used to communicate safely with the suspect until he was apprehended, said Jasper County Sheriff John Halferty.
That was the first time the MRAP was used since the sheriff’s office received it in late March. The vehicle was acquired through the 1033 Program, which allows the Secretary of Defense to transfer, without charge, excess U.S. Department of Defense personal property to state and local law enforcement agencies. The only cost to the agencies is the transfer of the equipment.
Since this program began, there has been a sentiment that it may over militarize local law enforcement agencies. However, Halferty said the MRAP will mainly be used in emergency situations such as storms, flooding and blizzards as well as with the tactical rescue unit.
Additional items that the sheriff’s office have received, besides the MRAP are two sets of three M-14 rifles and M-16 rifles, ballistic helmets, BDUs, shields and padding/riot gear for the jail, scopes for rifles, telescopes, gas masks and filters, computers and office equipment, a carry-all utility van, a 4x4 Blazer and fitness equipment.
“Early on, in the late ’90s when we had a rash of meth labs, we were able to get protective equipment, gloves, boots, that type of thing,” Halferty said.
The M-14 and M-16 rifles are currently being stored and as of now, Halferty does not see a need for any other large militarized vehicles or weapons. The sheriff’s office does not have machine guns, grenade launchers, bazookas or a number of other weapons, which are offered through the program.
“At this time, I believe we have what we need,” Halferty said.
The Jasper County Sheriff’s Office has been a member of the 1033 Program for at least 20 years Halferty said. An easy to use website is available for members to search for anything they might need from rifles to filing cabinets. Members can access the items on a first-come, first-serve basis, or if there is no item available at the time, they can be put on a wait list.
“If we see an item if it’s a M-16 or if it’s a filing cabinet or a piece of gym equipment, we ask for that item online,” Halferty said. The item has to go through several phases before it is available for pick up.
“We have to what’s called a justification, we have to say the sheriff’s office will use this piece of equipment for this reason. It then gets approved by the state and then it has to go through the federal program to be approved,” Halferty said. “If it is approved, the cost to us is whatever it takes to get that item here. So we don’t actually have to pay for the item, we have to pay if we ship it or if we pick it up, it costs gas money.”
Every year the sheriff’s office has to summit to an audit of all items they have every received through the program. Most years, they supply photographs and verification that the items are still in their possession but this past year an on-site audit was performed.
“In some cases they do site audits and Jasper County was selected within the last 12 months for a site audit, which we passed with flying colors,” Halferty said.
Overall, Halferty said it’s been a great program from the sheriff’s office.
“If we can’t access these items and we really need them, then it’s still going to be additional tax dollars used for us to get those items. To me it is a win-win,” he said. “If we can get them through the military where they are already paid for at limited cost to the taxpayers, as opposed to spending a lot of tax payer dollar and time trying to get it, I think it is a good deal.”
Contact Staff Writer Jamee A. Pierson at (641) 792-3121 ext. 6534 or email@example.com.