The Texas Rangers were at the Eustace Police Department this week inventorying the department’s property room.
According to Mayor Elicia Sanders, the Rangers are conducting an investigation, which comes on the heels of the termination of Eustace Police Chief Kenneth Holder.
Holder was terminated from the Eustace Police Department on Sept. 4.
At the time of the termination, Sanders would only say, “He (Holder) was terminated for multiple violations of the employee handbook, and violations of the police department code of conduct.”
Department of Public Safety media representative, Trooper Jean Dark, said, “Texas Rangers were called at the request of the Henderson County District Attorney Scott McKee's Office to catalog and reconcile the property room at the police station.”
Dark said the audit was to help prepare the department for the incoming police chief.
“The objective of the audit was to determine whether the department has adequate controls over seized property, drugs and evidence to ensure that they are tracked and safeguarded,” Dark said.
McKee said he requested help from the Texas Rangers, because there had been some allegations about misuse of items in the property room.
“It is our job to investigate the allegations,” McKee said.
Sanders did confirm that Eustace had received some military equipment using the Department of Defense Excess Property Program (1033 program).
The program is authorized under federal law, and managed through the Defense Logistic Agency's Law Enforcement Support Office.
The 1033 Program provides surplus DoD military equipment to state and local civilian law enforcement agencies to use in counter-narcotics and counter-terrorism operations and to enhance officer safety.
Sanders faxed a 4-page list to the Review of items the city or the chief had received using the 1033 program.
The items range from a $7.46 tool kit to a $16,000 machine gun.
Some of the other items included: truck tractor, valued at $166,223; backpack for medical trauma, valued at $96,440; exercise bicycle, valued at $2,077; blower for landscaping, valued at $7,704; excavator, multipurpose, valued $115,704; impact drill, valued at $390; alarm set, valued at $2,155; and a computer set, digital, valued at $22,537.
The city has received over 100 military items using the 1033 Program.
The 1033 program has no strict regulations, except when a department is done with the equipment they return it to the Department of Defense.
“This program is enticing,” said Sanders. “It's all free. You don't pay for any of it.”
Sanders did say the city was aware of some of the items obtained from the 1033 program, but not all the items until they requested a complete list of equipment issued to the Eustace Police Department.
“We are trying to locate all the items,” said Sanders.
The mayor did not confirm if the military items were the reason the Texas Rangers were in Eustace, or if the missing equipment has any connection to the termination of Holder.
McKee would not confirm or deny that the military equipment was part of their investigation of the property room in Eustace.