ONLY ON KSWO.COM: Duncan PD purchasing 45 M-16s

By: Jarred Burk - email: Internet Reporter

DUNCAN, Okla_The Duncan Police Department will soon be the new owner of 45 military surplus M-16 assault rifles thanks to the city council giving the okay at Tuesday's council meeting for $1,962.13 to fund the purchase.

Duncan Police Chief Dan Ford said the reason for the purchase of so many rifles was simple.

"We need to be armed at the level of the individuals we may come in contact with."

This purchase will most definitely allow his officers to do that.

These rifles are surplus assault rifles exactly like the ones used by American soldiers in the deserts of Afghanistan. The program which allowed the department to make the purchase of these rifles at rock bottom price, $46 each, is called the "Law Enforcement Support Office" or LESO. LESO is run by the United States Department of Defense (DOD) and was authorized in the 1997 National Defense Authorization Act as a way to transfer excess DOD property to federal, state and local law enforcement agencies (LEAs). According to LESO's website "special consideration is provided to counter-drug and counter terrorism activities."

Figures provided on the website show that since the program's inception in 1997 more than $2.6 billion worth of property has been transferred to LEAs. In fiscal year 2011 a record $498 million worth of property was sold. The massive increase in transfers from the federal government to state and local agencies caused some unforeseen problems.

In June of this year the program was put on hold for a short time while the DOD worked to make sure the inventory of all of the property was up to date and that these kinds of weapons were not being lost in the shuffle.

Chief Ford said there is no issue with his department.

"We have completed the inventory paperwork sent to us and have returned it to DOD."

According to the chief, the Duncan Police Department currently has 45 officers on staff protecting the citizens. With this purchase, all officers who want to be armed with one of these rifles will be able to. The department holds yearly qualification classes to make sure all officers are proficient with the guns.

This purchase is not the only one made by the department though. Ford said they have made multiple purchases through the LESO program including a Humvee and boat to patrol the city's lakes.

For those of you familiar with the rifles and know that since these are surplus military rifles with the capability of full automatic fire, you may be wondering if officers will have that ability. Chief Ford did not know for sure.

"We may convert the weapons to semi only. That has yet to be determined."

Duncan is not the only local department to purchase equipment through the LESO program.

Lawton Interim Police Chief James Apple said they have purchased a number of items through the program including their armored vehicle and tactical uniforms amongst other items.