LESO program enhances sheriff and community safety

The Lyon County Sheriff’s Office partners with the Defense Logistics Agency and its Law Enforcement Support Office to procure Department of Defense equipment. The equipment and technology acquired includes motor vehicles, rescue tools, office supplies, among others.

The Lyon County Sheriff’s Office is enrolled in the Law Enforcement Support Office (LESO) 1033 Program, which officials say continues to be an invaluable resource that enhances the safety of deputies and civilians.

Lyon County Sheriff Brent White said LESO is an asset for both the sheriff’s office and Lyon County.

He said the sheriff’s office recently acquired two large refrigeration units to support and supplement the coroner’s office in the event of mass death. White said he is mitigating the county’s social vulnerability by preparing for unforeseen circumstances. Other items the sheriff’s office has procured through LESO are trucks, boats, lights, thermal imaging equipment and snow plows, among other items. White noted the program has strict oversight.

“We’re not trying to militarize our officers or deputies,” he said. “We just basically want our people to go home at night.”

County deputies were involved in two incidents at Land Between the Lakes two weeks ago that was successful as a result of issued military-grade equipment acquired through LESO, White stated.

The deputies were dispatched to LBL on Saturday night and Sunday morning to assist other law enforcement agencies with investigations.

Deputies Joe Witherspoon and Keith Suits arrived at LBL at 7:54 p.m. on Saturday to assist the Department of Fish and Wildlife with an investigation of a disturbance complaint and an alleged assault, according to the sheriff’s office’s activity report.

A man was arrested in relation to the complaints but, “at some point, the detainee escaped from the rear passenger compartment while still handcuffed and fled into a wooded area in LBL,” according to the report.

Witherspoon and Suits deployed their thermal sight module unit to find the man — who was apprehended at 9:10 p.m. — according to the report. The case is being investigated by the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife law enforcement division.

On Sunday at 1:30 a.m., Witherspoon deployed the same thermal imaging equipment when he was dispatched to LBL to assist the Kentucky State Police with an investigation of a disturbance complaint.

Juveniles were found in the woods in LBL with the help of Witherspoon’s thermal sight module unit. They were detained and later released to the custody of their family members, according to the report.

LESO was established in 1997 by Congress on the heels of the National Defense Authorization Act of 1990 and 1991. It is a component of the disposition service of the Defense and Logistics Agency, according to the program overview.

The mission of LESO is to enable law enforcement agencies to acquire Department of Defense property.

Since LESO was established, the program has transferred a reported $7.7 billion worth of equipment to participating law enforcement agencies. Items include tactical gear, tools, rescue equipment, vehicles, and firearms, according to the program.

A law enforcement agency may review available excess DoD inventory suitable for local law enforcement use. Requests are made through the governor-appointed state coordinator, as outlined by the program. The cost to participate in the program ranges from shipping the items to storage costs.

As indicated by the Defense Logistics Agency, fewer than 2% are small arms, and fewer than 1% are tactical vehicles.

“Because we’re small as an agency, our budgets are small,” White added. “It helps us get the equipment we wouldn’t otherwise be able to obtain. It helps our county.”