Dewey Group Calls for Answers on LESO Program - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Dewey Group Calls for Answers on LESO Program

Posted: Jan 30, 2018 4:38 PM Updated:

DEWEY BEACH, Del.- Dozens of Dewey Beach residents say they want more information about a federal surplus military program the Dewey Beach Police Department takes part in.

Jeffrey Smith with the Dewey Citizens for Accountability says the police department has $2.85 million in inventory from the LESO program, and questions why a town of that size would need all that equipment.

"We are a 400 resident town. It's a third of a mile," he says. "We are not even sure where we could park a good amount of that stuff in that town."

The Dewey Beach Police Department says the $2.85 million figure comes from individual pricing of equipment, when in reality it could be worth much less due to quality and age. As such, the department could actually have far less in inventory value than the numbers indicate. 

Smith says a recent presentation on the program failed to answer questions such as how the supplies are budgeted or where they are kept. He also alleges that some equipment-- like humvees used during flooding incidents-- are used improperly.

"The military surplus program is supposed to be used for actual law enforcement operations," he says. "Law enforcement operations do not include floods."

Commissioner Paul Bauer gave a presentation on the program earlier this month, and says he welcomes the group's request for a full state audit. But he says claims that the program was somehow kept secret from town officials simply isn't true. 

"If you deposited a $35,000 check in your account, can you tell me with a straight face that you didn't know anything about it?" he says. "Of course people knew about it especially when they traded equipment." 

Mayor T.J. Redefer and Bauer both say the program allows towns like Dewey Beach to acquire equipment they could otherwise never afford. He says the Dewey Citizens for Accountability's report card fails to account for some seasonal statistics.

"When you are looking at per capita rates for equipment [..] it's a little hard to use per capita in a town like Dewey Beach that grows to 30,000 in the summer and to 300 in the winter," he says. 

Bauer, Redefer, and Smith all say accountability is key. 

"We join them [the Dewey Citizens for Accountability] in that effort and we will be looking for everything we can find," Redefer tells WBOC. "If there is a problem within our town, people will be held accountable."

For more on the LESO program, click here. 

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