The department announced Tuesday it has acquired a wide-ranging assortment of government military surplus items, including a mine-resistant vehicle, a dozen Humvees, 50 body bags and 500 chests of ammunition. It’s all part of more than $3.4 million in equipment military surplus equipment picked up since January at little or no cost.
“This is something that we might have needed and we didn’t have to spend any money,” Capt. Calvin Chew said. “We could use (the money) in the budget for something else now. All around, it’s a great program and it’s something the sheriff is very proud of.”
The department has wasted no time in putting the equipment to use, Chew said. The Humvees arrived Jan. 22, and were quickly put into service transporting medical personnel to and from work in the wake of a February ice storm that crippled much of the Augusta area. The four-wheel drive capabilities allowed deputies to travel icy roads to rescue stranded citizens, he said.
The mine resistant vehicle arrived a month later, and was stationed at the department’s command center at Augusta National Golf Club during this year’s Masters Tournament.
“Because of the bombing in Boston, we wanted to have something on site that could go into dangerous situations if needed,” Chew said. “It’s also good for our special ops personnel. You’ve got to understand that we cater to a lot of the surrounding agencies, so they call on our assistance in a lot of situations where we might need to use these vehicles.”
The sheriff’s office plans to use two boats acquired through the surplus program to patrol Augusta waterways, something Chew says is mandated by law. The boats are valued at more than $430,000 combined.
After the May 4, 2013 attack of a couple on Riverwalk Augusta, having an additional set of eyes on the water is helpful, Chew said.
“More law enforcement presence is always good,” he said. “It’s a deterrent to certain crimes.”
Other items acquired included weight-lifting equipment, life vests, power generators and cooking equipment.
Chew said the department will continue to use outlets such as military surpluses to fit the needs of the department in the future.
“We’re always looking for ways to supplement our budget,” he said. “This is a great way of doing so.”