Local Departments Advocate Use Of Military Gear

Rural Lonoke County, home to soybean fields, the sheriff's office and its mine-resistant ambush protected vehicle. 

It is part of $1.1 million in equipment-transferred here through a federal program for local law enforcement agencies-for free.

Instead of criminal activity, so far, the only time Lonoke deputies have loaded up a truck has been to deliver supplies for tornado relief in Vilonia. 

“A lot of people maybe misunderstand why we're obtaining these vehicles,” said Lt. Jim Kulesa with the Lonoke County Sheriff’s Office. “They can be used for rescue and officer safety.”

A similar case happened in Maumelle where a Humvee was used to  help wade through flood water.

Criminal justice professor, Jeff Walker said the equipment can provide safety and savings.

He hopes the government’s review results in strict guidelines that keep the programs in place.

“The programs are good; the equipment has to go somewhere. If they don't hand it down, they’re going to destroy it. It’s not good use of money or it might go to money or it might to go another country.”

Lt. Kulesa said they're already writing a policy to outline potential uses but refuse to be too specific. 

“We can’t say this specific situation because no situation is the same but we do get tornadoes, we do get damage, we do get floods, and in that aspect, that’s where these vehicles can be used.”

He maintains it's all about safety for officers and the public.

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