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APD Chief Defends Use Of Military Gear
Updated: Wednesday, August 27 2014, 07:53 PM CDT
They are highly trained officers used to confronting dangerous conditions. But their equipment costs millions. That's why agencies like the Austin Police Department SWAT Team depend on the 1033 program which provides excess military equipment to local agencies.
"We got night vision goggles, we got ballistic helmets, we received two old peace keepers, we have gotten office furniture for our office unit," says Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo.
But amid the debate over use of military equipment in Ferguson, Congressman Michael McCaul, chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, reached out to the Austin Police Department to find out what local agencies are getting through the 1033 program.
Congressman McCaul said, "I had a briefing with the SWAT team this morning with the police chief to get his assurance that all the equipment we are using here in Austin really is held in reserve as a last resort in the event of a rescue type situation."
Chief Acevedo says, "Think back to 1966 with Charles Whitman when we had several dozen Texans, young people, pregnant women shot and killed and gravely injured. I'm convinced if we had these type of rescue vehicles we would have saved a lot of lives and we would have been able to put that threat down a lot quicker."
Chief Acevedo says the equipment saves tax dollars and lives.
"The reason we use them for high risk entries is because and for barricaded suspects is because when you use people specifically trained and specifically equipped for the mission the likelihood of an officer involved shooting greatly diminishes," he says.