Memo: APD surrenders some ‘military equipment’ to fall in line with Austin resolution

Protest outside APD headquarters 5-31-20

Officers watch on during protests in downtown Austin. (Frank Martinez/KXAN)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Austin Police Department got rid of some of its “military equipment,” according to a city memo written Thursday by APD Chief Joseph Chacon.

Addressed to Austin Mayor Steve Adler and the City Council, the memo outlines a resolution passed by the council in June 2020 after protests brought to light the equipment used by police officers for crowd control.

The resolution applies to “any and all equipment acquired” by APD through the U.S Department of Defense’s Law Enforcement Support Office, otherwise known as LESO of the 1033 program. The program is designed to take obsolete or unneeded equipment out of military use, but if the equipment is in good working condition, local law enforcement bureaus can apply to use it.

More than 8,200 law enforcement agencies in 49 states and four U.S. territories participate in the LESO program, its website says. Most of the “military equipment” that APD has City Manager approval to use is with its SWAT team.

Chacon said the department “disposed of several items” after it took inventory, but it’s unclear exactly what equipment they gave up. KXAN asked for a specific list of items APD surrendered or returned as part of the LESO program, and once we get that list, we’ll include it in the story.

APD said it created a list of items that adhere to LESO’s regulations and the rules set forth in the resolution. Here’s the list:

  • SWAT
    • Night Vision and replacement parts
    • Infrared Illuminators
    • Optics
    • Eye Protection
    • Tools (e.g., saws, wrenches, toolboxes, generators, etc.)
    • Civilian Vehicles (Training)
    • Thermal Imagers
    • Binoculars
    • Robots
    • Explosive Ordinance Disposal Equipment
    • Ordinance Disposal Equipment (Bomb Defusal) Robots and replacement parts
    • Medical Equipment (IFAKs, Field trauma kits)
    • Polaris Vehicles
  • Air Unit
    • Helicopter and replacement parts
    • Night vision and replacement parts
    • Tools
  • Training Academy
    • Optics
    • Forklift (For moving and storing ammunition)
  • Patrol/Remainder of the Department
    • Eye protection optics
    • Lights
    • Medical equipment (IFAKs, Field trauma kits, etc.)

Chacon said if the department decides it needs something that’s not on the list, it has to send a request to the City Manager for approval.

On LESO’s website, it details what isn’t available through the program due to “tactical military characteristics.”

  • Any aircraft, vessels or vehicles that inherently contain weaponry, (tanks, Bradley fighting vehicles, armed drones)
  • Crew served/large caliber (.50 cal or greater) weapons and ammunition
  • Military uniforms
  • Body armor
  • Kevlar helmets
  • Explosives or pyrotechnics of any kind
  • Aircraft and vehicles available in the program are “demilitarized,” meaning that any specific military technology (e.g. communication equipment) are removed prior to transfer to law enforcement agencies

Chacon said the department “properly disposed of all other equipment in accordance with 1033 program procedures.”

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