Securing the border with hardware E-mail
Written by Mark Nichols   

Texas lawmakers are asking the Pentagon to hand out surplus combat equipment from Iraq such as Humvees, weapons and night vision goggles to federal, state and local law enforcement agencies along the U.S.-Mexico border. According to a recent article in the Houston Chronicle, Representatives Ted Poe and Henry Cuellar along with 17 border sheriffs from Texas, New Mexico and Arizona wrote a letter to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta requesting that he “expedite delivery of surplus equipment.”

“Much of this equipment would be useful to the federal, state and local law enforcement in their efforts to secure the border with Mexico,” the lawmakers said in a joint statement.

In addition, Poe has proposed legislation that would force the Department of Defense to make 10 percent of certain equipment returning from Iraq available to law enforcement agencies patrolling the southern border.

“State and local officials are on the front lines of the southern border fighting to protect Americans from spillover violence from Mexico,” Poe said. “They are out-manned and out-gunned by the drug cartels and they are desperate for more resources.”

Cuellar said boosting border security requires federal help beefing up local law enforcement agencies. Despite the demands for troops and arms to “secure the border,” most of the surplus military equipment Texas has already received from the Pentagon has been given to law enforcement agencies far from the border.  

The Pentagon’s Law Enforcement Support Office distributed a record $468 million in surplus equipment nationwide in 2011. Texas got $17.6 million.

The Round Rock police, 253 miles north of the border crossing at Laredo, received 4,526 pieces of surplus military gear.

The Wichita County Sheriff’s Department came in second with 2,212 pieces of equipment and police in Rising Star, 371 miles north of Laredo, counted 815.

The population of Rising Star is about 800 people.

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