EASTCHESTER, N.Y. – Tuckahoe police officials have given new meaning to the adage “one person’s trash is another person’s treasure” and have furnished the department with high-end vehicles and equipment no longer being used by the U.S. Department of Defense to prepare the village to handle a “worst-case scenario.”
Since entering the program in 2010, the department has been very successful in acquiring vehicles, weapons and emergency equipment as part of the 1033 Department of Defense Federal Excess Property Program, which provides municipalities with goods – at no charge – that the federal government no longer deems viable.
Although the program typically yields small-ticket items such as computers or office furniture, Tuckahoe took home nearly $90,000 in equipment -- including a Humvee with 4,000 miles on the odometer, a John Deere excavator and five M-16 rifles – at no cost to taxpayers.
Tuckahoe Police Chief John Costanzo said that while Tuckahoe isn’t the typical neighborhood that requires its officers to carry military-grade equipment, it’s important to be prepared for anything in the 21st century. He noted that the weapons have been converted automatic from fully to semiautomatic and will use a 28-round magazine.
“What’s important is that in this day and age, I think law enforcement has to be prepared for the worst-case scenario,” he said. “Look at the recent incidents around our country and schools. Any law enforcement executive has to prepare themselves for those instances.”
Costanzo said that the 1033 program has come under fire recently, after officers in Ferguson, Mo., used some of the equipment they acquired through it against civilians during recent rioting. He said that the program has been a boon for smaller departments that otherwise would have to allocate a sizable amount of their resources to the purchases or abandon the plan altogether.
“There’s been some bad press and misinformation out there about the program and what police departments are using the equipment for, but it’s been a great asset for law enforcement across the country,” he said. “You have to put a certain amount of trust in the people we put in place to uphold the law. We train our officers properly and deploy the equipment properly as a last resort.”
Members of the department envision less sinister ways to use the equipment. The Humvee is earmarked for the latest 100-year storm and will allow officials to travel most places in the village without consequence, no matter the conditions. Tuckahoe DPW crews will also be able to use the excavator when the department isn’t using it.
Mayor Steve Ecklond commended the department for its resourcefulness, and noted that if this weren't necessary, the village wouldn’t approve it.
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