The Pentagon has suspended the City of Hyattsville, Maryland Police Department from participating in the U.S. Department of Defense’s highly-publicized "1033" program.
Military officials would not specify why, but Hyattsville’s police chief said his department was suspended because one of its military-grade firearms was stolen, and has yet to be recovered.
The "1033" military program -- under new scrutiny because of recent unrest and police practices in Ferguson, Missouri -- provides U.S. Department of Defense military equipment to police departments nationwide at no cost.
Thousands of pieces of equipment -- including mine-resistant vehicles, armored trucks, guns, bayonets and gas masks -- have been distributed to Maryland and Virginia police departments in recent years, according to a review of police inventories by the News4 I-Team.
The City of Hyattsville Police Department, which received several military firearms, lost one of those guns in a July 2010 theft outside an officer’s home near Madison Street in Hyattsville. The police department said the thief was caught, but the gun has not yet been recovered. The department said the theft is what triggered the Pentagon’s decision to suspend the agency from the program.
Because of the suspension, Hyattsville police may not obtain any additional equipment from the "1033" program. The department must apply for first reinstatement to do so.
A further review by the I-Team revealed potential communication gaps between the Pentagon and local police officials. Hyattsville’s police chief said the suspension was issued in April, but in statements to the News4 I-Team, Hyattsville’s chief and Maryland State Police, which oversees the implementation of the "1033" program in the state, said they were not notified about the suspension within the past week.
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In his statement, City of Hyattsville Police Chief Douglas Holland said, "On August 27th we became aware that the Hyattsville City Police Department had been suspended from the DRMO (Military Surplus Program). Subsequent investigation by our agency revealed that the suspension was effective on 15 April 2014 and related to a military surplus rifle that was stolen from one of our police vehicles in July 2010."
A Maryland State Police spokesman said, "The Maryland State Police received no notification regarding the Hyattsville PD suspension."
The I-Team’s inquiries to the Pentagon about how and when it notified Hyattsville police about the suspensions were not immediately returned.
A spokesman for the Defense Logistics Agency, which oversees the "1033" program for the U.S. Department of Defense, would not specify why Hyattsville was suspended.
In a statement, he said, "(Hyattsville police) were suspended for noncompliance with their memorandum of agreement”, which is required for participation in the program."