By John Burton
LITTLE SILVER – Borough police may not need them to go over hill, over dale or to hit the dusty trail, but the former U.S. military equipment the department has secured at no cost will come in handy for emergency situations.
Long before Super Storm Sandy, Police Chief Daniel Shaffery applied for the borough to secure some surplus equipment and recently received two Humvees, two 6 x 6 heavy-duty trucks and two portable generators – all without cost to the borough and its taxpayers.
The equipment was obtained through a program orchestrated by the U.S. Department of Defense’s Defense Logistics Agency. The agency’s Law Enforcement Support Office program, established in 1997, makes surplus military equipment available to civilian law enforcement organizations. It’s what the agency’s literature calls: “Transferring property from the warfighter to the crimefighter.”
With the Pentagon scaling back and military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq drawing to a close, there is a remarkable amount of equipment available through the program, Shaffery said, calling it “a once in a lifetime deal” for organizations like the borough’s police department.
Little Silver had a 2 1/2-ton truck it used for emergency use but it’s more than 40 years old, Shaffery said, “and doesn’t run right.”
Areas of Little Silver were hard hit by flooding from Sandy in October 2012. “We had areas we couldn’t get to” and potential damage to police cars by driving them through saltwater from the floods, he said.
Following Sandy, the department had to seek assistance from Red Bank and used its vehicles to get to some locations.
“Now, we’re self-reliant,” Shaffery said, and much more prepared for high-water rescue work.
Shaffery learned about the program through members of the West Long Branch Police. That department already had obtained equipment and set up a conference for area departments with the defense logistics agency in 2011, Shaffery said.
The vehicles are refurbished and in tiptop shape. Shaffery, however, was surprised at how spartan they are for military personnel.
“They’re bare bones,” he said, without air conditioning and not much of a heater. They are loud, with seats that look like “milk crates with beach chair cushions.”
The Humvees really do require two to be aboard when driving because of the numerous blind spots. “So, depending on what you’re doing,” he said, “you will need someone to get out and direct you.”
The generators are capable of putting out 7,500 watts of electric power each, come with 15-foot floodlight stanchions and have wheels making them very portable, Shaffery said.
“The best part for me is these are assets we could need and didn’t have to pay for them.”
According to the department paperwork, the Humvees are valued at $47,989 each, with the trucks costing the Pentagon $67,139 each. The cost of the generators is $18,400 each.