Thanks to a giveaway program, Orange County law enforcement agencies have received more than $4.2 million in military-grade equipment from the U.S. Department of Defense.
California Watch, a project of the nonprofit Center for Investigative Reporting, has released a report on the Defense Department's giveaway program, which has seen more than 17,000 public law enforcement agencies throughout the nation haul in roughly $2.8 billion in surplus military equipment in the two decades since Congress created the program.
California police accumulated more equipment during 2011 than any other year in the equipment-transfer program's two-decade history, according to a California Watch analysis of U.S. Department of Defense data.
A total of 163,344 new and used items valued at $26.2 million – from bath mats acquired by the sheriff of Sonoma County to a full-tracked tank for rural San Joaquin County – were transferred last year to state and local agencies.
According to the report, the Orange County Sheriff's Department — in a 2003 equipment transfer that would cause the “American Pickers” to squirt their pants — landed a communication subsystem valued at more than $1 million.