Wednesday, September 3, 2014

That's A Damn Good Question...

Joseph in IL sends in this thought-provoking article.

How does a police department lose a Humvee?
One freezing day last December in the tiny town of Palestine, Ark., a young man climbed into the police department’s Humvee, turned it on, and drove off on a joy ride.

“It never crossed my mind” that anyone would do that, Palestine Police Chief Stanley Barnes said Wednesday of the incident. The Humvee, which the town of fewer than 700 people got for free through a controversial Pentagon program that gives old military equipment to local police departments, doesn’t have keys. But it’s easy to look up how to start one.
Okay, can someone explain something to me? How in blue bloody blazes does a town of 700 people get their hands on a Humvee? It's bad enough that they had one, but that it was stolen and vanished for a week before anyone noticed it was gone? Really?

The town I lived in in MA had a population of several thousand people when I was growing up. We had four full time officers, a couple auxiliary guys, and two squad cars, three if you counted the chief's unmarked. We managed to get by just fine with those three vehicles. You're telling me a town with nearly an order of magnitude fewer people needs a military grade vehicle? Really?

And while they might have gotten the Humvee from a military program designed to hand off older equipment to police forces, here's a few questions: How much does it cost to insure and maintain a Humvee? Wouldn't these vehicles be better off being sold to the general public and actually bring money in? I would imagine the cool factor would be sky-high for a genuine seen-the-elephant military vehicle.

Here's the best part of the whole story, though:
The police department now uses the massive wreck for parts for its other Humvee, which it also obtained from the Department of Defense Excess Property Program (DOD 1033) to help fight crime in the small town.
Got that? A town of 700 people has not one but two Humvees. They have as many Humvees as my town of 4-5K had police cars. With gas at anywhere from $3.50 to $4 a gallon, this town can afford to keep two separate Humvees running - until one got stolen and wrecked, that is. Notice, too, that there's no mention of them actually catching the person responsible. I'm really glad such a crack team of law enforcement professionals warrants two military vehicles to keep their town safe when they can't even keep track of a Humvee.

Notice, too, that "weapons of war" appear to have a place on our city streets, as long as they're commanded by the "right" people.

That is all.


Anonymous said...

The 1033 program forbids transfer of the items gained in the program or sale to private parties.

I find it more disconcerting that 21 pistols, 10 shotguns, and 25 long guns as well as 4 Humvees went missing.

And the worst part is that once a department is shown to be lax in their shepherding of these assets, the only punishment is being cut off from the distribution teat. They don't have to turn in their remaining assets because they can't be trusted to keep track of them.

Joseph in IL

Stretch said...

Hummers run on diesel which is more expensive than petrol.

Wally said...

AMG campaigned heavily back in the day to disallow sales of mil surplus vehicles - they said it would hit their sales numbers if you could buy cheap used green (or white) trucks.

Postal carrier LLVs, M151 Mutts, Humvees etc (a few humvees were released before policy change).

But for general surpluss stuff.... Anything uncle same can't use goes up for grabs. Municipalities get first dibbs. Things that municipalities dont bid on (no arms) go up for general bid.

As a shopper you can do pretty well at a USGov auction

IMO, they should eliminate the municipality trumping the individual, and just free market it all. Including small arms :)

Sigivald said...

"It's bad enough that they had one"?


It's just an SUV; it's a truck.

It's not an APC or an armored car or a tank.

Fuel economy's not great, but neither is a Suburban's - and the HMMWV will be better at pulling someone out of a ditch or the like.

The only "military grade" difference between it and the old H1 that Hummer sold commercially is that it's 24 volt, worn out a bit, and de-luxurified.

Saying "military" over and over won't make it all that special...

Heath J said...

Sending boots to a staff NCO to get the humvee keys is an annual favorite, and there's usually one that falls for it.

Jay G said...

I'll let Heath answer the question.

How much more does a Humvee cost to maintain than, say, the hypothetical Suburban?

For starters, the tires alone are like a grand each IIRC...

Sailorcurt said...

I agree with Sigivald on the military issue. Unless it was an up-armored version, it's just a truck. A great one for off-road or for emergencies like floods or bad storms at that.

I do agree with Jay on the expense part though...they can't be cheap to maintain and operate even if you got it for free. Of course, that may be why they didn't notice it was missing for so long if they can't afford to actually drive them...

I spent some time in the Naval Police Force (otherwise known as "security"). One of our unmarked security vans went missing once (no weapons inside, thank Yahweh). We initially treated it as a theft, but it mysteriously reappeared in the same parking spot the next day.

Come to find out that the ignition switch was faulty and basically any Chrysler key would start it.

The final determination was that it was a combination of the last person who used it didn't lock the doors; someone who had checked out a van jumped into the wrong one and because it started just fine with the key they had, assumed they were in the right one.

Don't know if they ever realized their mistake (the shotgun racks and radio should have been a dead giveaway, even though it was not marked and had no lights) or just finished with it and returned it to the same spot they got it from, but either way, returned it the next day.

We never did figure out who took it, but that's the theory anyway.

The only people who didn't find it funny as heck were the Security Officer and the XO and CO of the ship.

Anonymous said...

Jay, the only vehicle that got around in the snow we had in 1999 was the NG Hummers. Having one for emergency use makes sense, as an everyday driver, not so much.

Borrowing Hummers that were left unsecured/unchained is a fine military tradition, following in the history of liberating Jeeps and transferring horses. Just don't get caught.


Heath J said...

You're correct, they're high maintenance, suck on paved roads and a sheriff's dept. would be better served by a pickup or SUV.

Not to mention that they must have assumed the people using it were an average of 5' tall. I drove one 17 hours once, and wanted nothing more than a handful of muscle relaxers and a bottle of bourbon to chase em'.