An audit by the Department of Defense Office of Inspector General found multiple law enforcement agencies receiving excess military assets through the Law Enforcement Support (LESO) Program obtained property that didn’t support their law enforcement activities.
The Department of Defense can transfer its excess property to law enforcement agencies nationwide. This includes armored vehicles and firearms, as well as commercial vehicles, generators, hand tools, office furniture, and miscellaneous products. Since 1990, the Department of Defense has transferred more than $7.4 billion worth of property to law enforcement agencies — this includes 2,885 high mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicles and 1,105 mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicles (MRAPs).
Auditors reviewed 15 law enforcement agencies that received assets and determined many did not use the equipment for law enforcement purposes, intended to sell it or loan it to other agencies not in the program, or stored the equipment because they didn’t need it. One agency stated it had requested the property and stored it in case of a future need because it was free — including 30 generators that were not maintained, some of which became unusable.
Auditors stated that without adequate oversight, some law enforcement agencies (LEAs) received more property than they could use, forcing other agencies to purchase the assets instead. For example, two LEAs requested all-terrain vehicles through the program, but other LEAs had already received the vehicles. Auditors found another LEA that had an all-terrain vehicle it was not using.
While stating that the majority of LEAs are in compliance with program requirements, the Defense Logistics Agency, which manages the program, agreed to audit recommendations. Specifically, the agency said it would re-evaluate how law enforcement agencies are selected, increase review of the property, and enforce allocation limits.