County Commissioners have ruled that the Sheriff's Department is now authorized to take advantage of an apparent weapons and equipment surplus from the Department of Defense (DOD).

The Sheriff's Department has been given the go-ahead to enroll in the State 1033 Program, which allows law enforcement entities to probe the inventory of the DOD for essential equipment at no cost to law enforcement entities.

Equipment is to be used for law enforcement activities, with an emphasis on counter-drug and counter-terrorism activities.

"This is for our needs, and it (equipment) is in good condition," said Sheriff Lupe Treviņo. "We have gotten buses, highly trained dogs out of Lackland Airforce Base, and quite a number of weapons."

Weapons include fully automatic and semi-automatic rifles like M-14s, and AR-16s which Treviņo says are given to law enforcement personnel near the border.

Through a DOD website, law enforcement officials logon and peruse an inventory where they see what is available.The Sheriff's Department signs off on any equipment, which is then delivered for use.

The Sheriff's Department recorded 7,431 total crimes in 2007, which is the latest year for recorded data according to the Texas Department of Public Safety. This included 14 murders, 150 robbery cases, and more than 2000 counts of burglary among others.

Edinburg PD reported slightly more than 4,000 total crimes, which included slightly more than 2,000 counts of larceny, the most reported crime in the city.

"This is a great program and I am in gratitude to the Department of Defense only because it saves the people a lot money on equipment we actually use," Treviņo said. "It's a win-win situation for everybody."

The 1033 program is spearheaded by the Joint Counterdrug Task Force Commander, which then staffs a State Points of Contact (SPOC) to administer daily operation.