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Police using COVID relief funds on equipment28 News 03/31/2022 1964
Police departments across the country are using funds allocated under the 2021 American Rescue Plan Act Act (ARPA) on new equipment like armored vehicles and "military-grade" drones.
VICE News first reported Tuesday exposing how various U.S. police departments had put ARPA funds towards their equipment.
On March 3, the Kingsport Police Department in Tennessee announced it spent $104,900 in ARPA funds on "military-grade drones designed and built specifically to use inside of buildings." The funds also went towards 10 custom communications headsets for its SWAT team, 75 holster adapters, eight mobile radar units, 150 trauma kits for treating gunshot wounds, and an unspecified number of new uniforms and security cameras.
DeKalb County, Ga. similarly used ARPA funds on new police drones last summer. The county, located in the Atlanta metropolitan area, specifically allocated about $38,650 for two aerial drones. Funds also went to 10 automated license plate readers and 10 other license plate readers.
The Dixon County City Council in California is also considering using $163,000 in ARPA funds for a police drone program, $211,000 for police body-worn cameras, and $163,000 for a license plate reader program.
Other police departments looked to purchase bigger-ticket items like armored vehicles.
The Franklin County Sheriff's Department in Missouri spent $334,715 (about 9 percent of its $2.6 million ARPA funds) on a Lenco BearCat armored vehicle, Missourian.com reported earlier this month. The new armored vehicle replaces a 60,000 pound (30 ton) mine-resistant armored vehicle already in the department's fleet.
Butler County in Pennsylvania similarly spent $330,000 on a Ghurka armored vehicle, Butler Radio reported in December.
The Hancock County Board of Commissioners approved $250,000 in ARPA funding for a BearCat armored vehicle, WFIN reported this month.
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