Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Editorials

June 30, 2012

Military surplus — Donations better equip McDowell

In the event of a future emergency, officials in McDowell County will now be better equipped to respond thanks to a generous donation of surplus military equipment announced this week.

The county has received a fully-armored military Humvee, a second military Humvee, a mobile command center, three additional Humvees, three ATVs, a forklift, five stationary generators, 18 GPS radios and various other equipment that was made available through the federal government’s Law Enforcement Support Office program.

The good news was announced Wednesday during a press conference organized by the McDowell County 911 Communications Center and the county’s Office of Emergency Services. The LESO equipment had a total value of $792,000 and was awarded to the county at no cost.

“The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) 1033 Program permits the Secretary of Defense to transfer excess DOD supplies and equipment to state and law enforcement agencies,”  Deputy James Muncy of the McDowell County Sheriff’s Department, said. “This property is procured at no cost to the agency with the exception of any shipping or transportation costs.”

The Humvees have already proven their value, according to Teresa VanDyke, director of McDowell 911 and the Office of Emergency Services. When flooding hit some areas around Squire last April, one of the Humvees was deployed to the area to assist with the recovery efforts.

The new mobile communications truck offers more capabilities. For example, the sheriff’s department could use it at crime scenes, and it can be useful during other emergencies. Its sides are folded up when on the road, but once they’re rolled out, the truck’s interior is 17-feet wide. The goal is to make the communications truck a place that could be the 911 center’s backup, VanDyke said.

“This vehicle will be set up so we can go to any scene and be able to perform 911 functions,” VanDyke said. “If there was a situation at the 911 center where we had to vacate the building for some reason, we would still be able to take calls. We could go plug in where we had generator power and telephone service and still be able to take calls and continue in our function as a 911 center.”

Funds are being sought to pay for the necessary equipment to complete the mobile 911 facility.

Launched in 1997, the goal of the LESO, or 1033 program, is to give law enforcement agencies across the nation access to surplus military equipment. The surplus military equipment will be put to good use in McDowell County. The donations are certainly welcomed.

McDowell County has seen its share of disasters in recent years, including the horrific and deadly floods of 2001 and 2002 that ravaged the county. That is why it is only prudent for county officials to prepare for another disaster. Thanks to the welcomed donation of surplus military equipment from the LESO program, they will now be better equipped to respond and assist to those citizens in need if and when the next disaster occurs.

 

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