Jersey Shore Town Receives 5 Surplus Military Vehicles

A police department in a southern New Jersey shore town has acquired five military vehicles to assist officers during severe weather.

Brigantine Police Lt. Jim Bennett said Thursday the department acquired four Humvees and a five-ton cargo truck through a federal Defense Department program.

The vehicles can drive through water and will likely be used during hurricanes and other foul weather, Bennett said. The department sought the vehicles after two fire trucks were lost because of flooding during Superstorm Sandy.

Police use of military vehicles came under scrutiny last year after their deployment during demonstrations surrounding the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.

Bennett said the vehicles have soft tops and doors and will not be used as they were in Ferguson.

"There's not going to be any show of force like you saw in Ferguson," Bennett said.

The use of military vehicles caught the attention of lawmakers, who considered measures to rein in their deployment. In March, Gov. Chris Christie signed into law a measure requiring local governments to sign off on the acquisition of military vehicles by New Jersey police departments.

The Brigantine City Council greenlighted the deal in July.

The department paid $340 in registration with the state, but otherwise the acquisition did not carry any cost, Bennett said.

The vehicles were obtained through the Pentagon's 1033 program, which stretches back to 1990. An earlier Associated Press investigation found that a disproportionate amount of the $4.2 billion worth of property has been distributed to police departments and sheriff's offices in rural areas with little crime and few officers.

That investigation also found the program operates with little oversight.

In May, President Barack Obama announced the program would cut off distribution of some military equipment, including vehicles with weapons as well as firearms and ammunition .50 caliber and above as well as bayonets.


Copyright AP - Associated Press
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