It took six months, but the Dewey Beach Police Department has fulfilled a request by town commissioners to account for all military surplus equipment acquired over the last five years, its use and if the items were sold.
During council’s April 14 meeting, Commissioner Gary Persinger provided a summary of the information.
The summary shows sales of equipment and other items totaled over $138,000, most of it – $110,500 – from the sale of two tractors. The information also shows that $94,000 was used to pay for new vehicles. The remainder – nearly $45,000 – was deposited with the town.
The police department’s use of this program was first reported by the Cape Gazette in October, after an investigation into employee allegations against former Town Manager Marc Appelbaum revealed the police department was using revenue generated from the military surplus items as what one officer called a slush fund.
In November, council unanimously decided to require the police department to provide a full accounting of its participation in the program.
According to Persinger’s summary, among the 2,600 items the police department acquired over the five-year span, from 2013 through 2017, were 27 trucks, 11 all-terrain vehicles, 50 pairs of boots, 35 cold-weather jackets, 10 men’s pajama trousers, 44 bunkable beds, 17 gas engines, 25 generators and 53 spectacles of various types.
Seven pieces of the equipment were exchanged for services rendered, but no value was provided.
According to the document, which is posted on the town website, the department still owns 42 vehicles including 15 trucks, 8 trailers, 6 tractors, 6 all-terrain vehicles and 2 forklifts.
Persinger said most acquisition costs associated with the items were shown as manpower and hauling, which he said he assumed meant officer time driving to get the equipment. He said no information was provided indicating the actual use of the equipment.
Persinger has pushed for this accounting since the request in November. He said his hope is the police department and Town Manager Scott Koenig can work together in the future to figure out the appropriate level of preparedness, compared to costs.
“This is a good program,” he said.
In addition to the list of items, in late March, the town released an agreed-upon procedures report from Salisbury-based TGM Group looking into the procurement practices of the police department and beach patrol. As expected, the report confirmed the two departments were not properly accounting for some revenue and donations. The findings of that report did not include monetary amounts, but did spur the town to enter into a second phase of the investigation.
During the council meeting, Mayor TJ Redefer said he expects many of the final questions associated with the town’s involvement in the military surplus program to be answered during this second phase of investigating.
Redefer did not provide a timeframe for completion of the second report, but he said when it is submitted, it will be council’s responsibility to issue a report on the town’s future use of the program.
Commissioner Dale Cooke said he thought the program has been good for the town, but the police department probably got a little out of hand. They got enamored with getting more equipment for the town, he said.