After approximately nine months, the Berlin Police Department has become registered with the Department of Defense Law Enforcement Support Office Program, allowing the department a way to find equipment and materials it can receive with no money from Berlin taxpayers.
The program, according to the Defense Logistics Agency website, allows for the “transfer of excess Department of Defense property that might otherwise be destroyed to law enforcement agencies across the United States and its territories.”
All items that are available through the program were excess to the needs of its location and are distributed to various agencies, just like the Berlin Police Department, across the country, having transferred nearly $7 billion in property.
Berlin Police Department Patrolman Josh Smith has helped the borough acquire two Humvees in recent months. This week, the department posted a photo of its most recent acquisition on its Facebook page.
According to Smith, the armored Humvees come with a combined worth of over $130,000, but cost Berlin taxpayers nothing to acquire.
The department started the process to become registered in the program last August, going through the State Police. After weeks of the application process, approval and training, the department was able to acquire what could be considered the two most impressive vehicles currently in its arsenal.
“Everything is done through the State Police. Everything is screened through them, they tell us what we can and cannot have, and they’re the ones that we speak to when we put in for items based on the town,” said Smith.
Smith believes the program provides borough police with the invaluable ability to acquire additional equipment to be better prepared for emergency situations, especially since equipment through the program is traditionally in near-mint condition.
“The program is a good program to use for the acquisition of equipment that is in, sometimes, pristine condition, like the Humvee that we just received is,” Smith said. “And they’re coming at zero dollars to the cost of the town and taxpayers, but come with a priceless value for its potential use in the event of emergency use for natural disasters and off-road capabilities.”
While there is nothing specific the Berlin Police Department is looking for in the future, Smith says the department is always searching for equipment that can serve the borough.
“We’re always browsing for new equipment that would benefit the residents and the town,” Smith said. “Based on the equipment that is posted, when we see something that would fit the needs of the department to better serve the residents, we’ll always put in it.”
At Berlin Council’s recent workshop meeting, Councilman Jim Pearce spoke about the work by the department in recent months to search for ways to save money, while improving its ability to serve the borough.
“I’m really proud of this,” said Pearce, at the workshop meeting. “They’re working hard to get a lot of extra income that’s not coming out of the taxpayers. They do have two Humvees now, and they are not in our budget and we did not pay for them.”
“I think it’s important that the public knows that we’re not paying for anything … they’re being very creative in finding ways to raise money within their department,” Pearce added.
As for the time being, the Berlin Police Department plans to use the Humvee at upcoming community events around town, such as during National Police Week from Sunday, May 12 to Saturday, May 18.