- Associated Press - Monday, August 25, 2014

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Several Arkansas law enforcement agencies have faced temporary suspensions from the U.S. Department of Defense’s “1033 program” in recent years for losing military equipment or for other reasons such as poor record-keeping.

Eighteen agencies have been temporarily suspended from the program since 2011, including three that were still suspended as of last week, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported (http://bit.ly/1wryiyN ). Half of the 18 suspensions were for administrative or procedural reasons, such as poor record-keeping. The other nine were issued because of equipment that was lost, stolen or used in an unauthorized way.

Federal officials said the program has provided law enforcement agencies with more than $5 billion in military equipment nationwide. The program has come under scrutiny because of the response of heavily armed police to the protests over the police killing of an unarmed 18-year-old man in Ferguson, Missouri, this month.

At least 163 Arkansas agencies have received weapons, vehicles or equipment through the program.

Data shows Arkansas law enforcement has received more than $34 million in military-issued equipment.

A Law Enforcement Support Office spokesman said a suspension means an agency’s access to any new equipment will be frozen until officials implement a remedial “action plan” provided by state officials.

The three Arkansas law enforcement agencies that were on suspension as of last week were the Lawrence County sheriff’s office, the Woodruff County sheriff’s office and the Judsonia Police Department.

The Lawrence County sheriff’s office was temporarily suspended in February after an M14 rifle was stolen and a set of night-vision goggles destroyed without authorization. That same month, the Woodruff County sheriff’s office was barred from receiving new equipment after inspectors found officials lost three of the five 12-gauge tactical shotguns.

In Judsonia, three of five military shotguns held by the city’s Police Department were unaccounted for in February.

Most agencies that were suspended for lost or misused property are smaller, rural organizations.

The program’s state manager, James Ray, said their suspensions were mostly because of poor record keeping.

“I wouldn’t say that it’s limited to just the rural or smaller agencies,” Ray said. “It depends on how they track their property, their policies, procedures, and how they’re followed.”

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Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, http://www.arkansasonline.com