The recent events in Ferguson, Missouri drew the nation’s attention to the use of military equipment by the Ferguson police as a way of keeping the rioters under control. In Georgia, the Doraville police were called to task for a rather gruesome video of an armored vehicle posted on their home page.
All of this caused Georgia’s Fourth District congressman, Hank Johnson, to try to get support for a bill he introduced that would limit the ability of local police agencies to obtain military grade equipment from the federal government.
In Gwinnett County, Sheriff Butch Conway isn’t a big fan of Johnson’s bill. According to the Gwinnett Daily Post, Conway would like to see what Johnson would do in a situation where SWAT was called out on a mission.
“I don’t think I have Hank’s cellphone number,” Conway said this week, “but I would like to contact him the next SWAT callout we have and, instead of taking one of our armored vehicles to the location, I would invite Hank to walk up to the door and see if they’ll surrender their weapons and come out peacefully. Because Hank seems to think that’s all it takes.”
The Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office has received a number of items through the [federal 1033 military surplus] program over the years, most notably an armored personnel carrier known as an LAV150. Used primarily to transport SWAT team members to and from dangerous scenes, it contains no offensive weapons but is plenty daunting.
Conway called the LAV150 a piece of “vital equipment,” and it represents the most conspicuous acquisition any Gwinnett County law enforcement agency has made via the 1033 program.
Thursday, Gwinnett’s SWAT team was called out to capture a murder suspect barricaded in a Lawrenceville home, and sure enough, the sheriff tried to contact the congressman. From a media release posted on Facebook by the Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office:
The LAV150 armored personnel carrier, provided to the Sheriff’s Office by the federal 1033 program, which allows the military to give law enforcement agencies a variety of surplus equipment, enabled SWAT members to safely gain close proximity to the home for peaceful negotiations and to maintain communication via the LAV’s speaker system after Jenkins’ cell phone died.
Sheriff Butch Conway was at the scene and, as promised, placed calls to Congressman Hank Johnson’s cell phone (which was discovered to be a wrong number) and office. He was advised by the Congressman’s staff that Congressman Johnson was not available and that the Sheriff’s message would be relayed. At the time of this press release, Sheriff Conway’s call has not been returned.
The murder suspect surrendered after a two hour standoff that included the department rescuing two children inside the home.