By U.S. ArmyFebruary 25, 2009
ANNISTON ARMY DEPOT, Ala.-Representatives from about 10 law enforcement agencies in Alabama and Georgia inspected a large supply of M16 and M16-A1 rifles here Feb. 11 inside a warehouse at the Anniston Defense Distribution Depot operated by the Defense Logistics Agency.
The law enforcement officers were at Anniston Army Depot to inspect the surplus weapons and determine whether or not they could be used to combat crime within their respective cities and counties.
Overall, DLA is expected to donate more than a thousand rifles during this venture. The Anniston Defense Distribution Depot has donated weapons in the past, "but on a much smaller scale," said Charles Elston, chief of distribution division, DLA-Anniston.
After the Department of the Army received an excess shipment of these rifles from the United States Air Force in October 2008, an organization affiliated with the National Institute for Justice-National Law Enforcement Corrections Technology Center-facilitated the exchange between the Department of Defense and area law enforcement agencies.
Calhoun County Sheriff's Office Chief Deputy Matthew Wade said his agency has received six military weapons like this in the past. One of the six weapons was used in a deadly encounter.
"A suspect engaged deputies at about 75 yards in a wooded area, and the rifle proved instrumental in the deputy's defense due to the distance involved," said Wade.
Aside from military small arms, Calhoun County sheriff's deputies also have an M113 and an M117 tracked vehicle in their inventory for use in police barricades.
Wade said the rifles he inspected at the depot were in "excellent condition" and that his agency expects to receive the depot's surplus rifles within the coming months.
Columbus, Ga., police officer Maj. Stan Swiney also visited the depot to inspect the weapons. His police department patrols and protects the city that hosts Fort Benning, which means he interacts on a daily basis with the military and civilian law enforcement officials working at the base. He said that the Army's surplus rifles at Anniston looked like they could be converted for use by he and his fellow officers.
"These rifles were built for military purposes, and our officers have different needs when it comes to their weapons. Like the handguns we issue, we need to be able to control situations immediately and I think we'll be able to put these rifles to use," said Swiney.
Other agencies participating in the rifle donation included the Georgia cities of Newnan and Sandy Springs.
Savings lives may be the first concern for these law enforcement agencies, but then they look at the best way they can accomplish their mission with the taxpayers' dollars. This military rifle donation, in particular, is believed to save the local and state agencies between $700 and $800 a weapon, according to officials.
Aside from being examined by the area law enforcement officials, Elston said all of the weapons at Anniston were inspected by TACOM-Rock Island to determine if the rifles were ready to leave the Army's inventory.
He also said that donating this equipment to area law enforcement agencies frees up space in the DLA facility at Anniston for equipment returning from outside the United States.
"We are filled to capacity, so we welcome the vacated space that we can fill with returns from OCONUS," said Elston.