Some of you have been asking your board of directors about our new Running Rats Acres Police Department or RRAPD, the occasional M1Abrams tanks you see on our streets, and I’ll get to the drones in a minute. You have asked, “I didn’t even know we had a police department although we could sure use one. How can anyone steal a vacant lot? When and how did this happen?” A few weeks ago your Homeowners Association received a letter from the Pentagon’s Department of Defense Excess Property Program (DODEPP) asking if our police needed any excess military equipment now that all the world is at peace and our armed forces no longer need most of their weapons.
I, of course, replied that we didn’t have a police force, but that we did have Constable Bill “Truncheon” Jones who patrols our neighborhood when he’s sober. The feds said that was no problem, just form a force. So Billy Bob Mesquite and John John O’John put together one. They were joined by Buddy Mildew who said he had military experience because he spent two years in the Army at Fort Hood sorting socks and expects us to provide him with health care for the rest of his life. The RRAPD didn’t have a real police station so they used Mesquite’s garage which was empty after his SUV Ford Intimidator was repossessed and his ’68 Dodge pickup is up on blocks in his front yard. The folks at DODEPP said that would do until an excess concrete bunker from the Korean DMZ arrives.
A few days later we got two armed Humvees along with 240 land mines that had been confiscated from the Texas Militia down on the border. The militiamen had planned to sew the mines along the banks of the Rio “to prevent an invasion of Patagonian peons.” Unfortunately, the militiamen forgot where the mines were buried and, after a night march, the survivors turned over the remaining mines to the feds. We also received 45 silencers for M16 assault rifles. We wrote back that we didn’t have any assault rifles. You won’t believe what we got next, or maybe you will.
Some of you may be wondering, what with our federal government trillions of dollars in debt, how it could give away free all this expensive equipment. As the name suggests, what we and others are getting is excess property, some of it even a year or two old. We don’t want our brave fighters using antiquated weapons against ISIS. Besides, those camel jockeys captured most of what we left. The RRAPD is not alone. The East Texas village of Kountze, with six officers, received eight fully automatic rifles, 30 bayonets – yes, bayonets — and two Humvees. The Houston PD has received more than 12,000 pieces of equipment in the last four years; 22 percent of it is safety equipment. The other 78 percent isn’t. More than 8,000 agencies across the country have enrolled in the program, receiving more than $5.1 billion worth of property since its inception in the 1990s.
We were asked how many men we had on our SWAT team and what equipment they needed. I responded that we didn’t have a SWAT team, but we used a lot of Off. Capt. Andy “Mad Dog” Randy of the DODEPP’s Appearance Is Everything Commission wrote, “SWAT teams look very mean and tough in their black uniforms and masks, sort of Darth Vader in a Wal-Mart parking lot. They have been added to the armories of police departments that already look and act like military units.” According to press reports, it seems this program has had problems. Masked, heavily armed police officers in Louisiana raided a nightclub in 2006 as part of a liquor inspection. In Florida in 2010, officers in SWAT gear and with guns drawn carried out raids on barbershops that mostly led only to charges of “barbering without a license.” (I’m not kidding.)
A popular request is for a mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicle (MRAP), which weighs 14 to 18 tons, is 9 feet tall and costs up to $800,000 each. MRAPs were built to withstand high explosive land mines and hidden roadside bombs. They are also excellent for enforcing handicap parking spot violations and recalcitrant double parkers. Grenade launchers are also very popular, even with campus police. Speaking of which, the UT-System has not only received an MRAP, but also M16s, two Humvees and rifle sights. “Remember Charles Whitman,” UT explained.
As for our own equipment, it is all free except we must pay shipping costs. (The tab for that bunker from the DMZ may be pretty steep.) About the incident in which Bunny Gromett was sunbathing nude in her back yard when a drone from the neighboring Swamp Hollow Village PD hovered overhead for 20 minutes. Most of us feel her husband, Black Jack Gromett, was more than justified in using his DODEPP-issued M 89 anti-aircraft missile. Great shot, Black Jack.
We. too, have drones, but are not sure how to use them. Actually, many problems associated with this equipment are because much of it arrived without instructors or even an owner’s manual. That explains why we couldn’t find a way to attach a bayonet to our howitzer, and why we keep pointing the bazooka the wrong way. Really, both ends look the same. (Sorry about your barber shop, Cosmo.) Many local police departments are receiving helicopters, so we asked for one, and got one. It’s great for drying out the golf course, and avoiding rush hour traffic to Wendy’s. One more point: RRAPD just received a letter from DODEPP about the MRAP, wanting to know “why the SWAT driver was DWI when it went into BB (Buffalo Bayou).” It added something about YPAAI! We’re having it decoded, but it seems to be a military acronym for You People Are Absolute Idiots! Finally, RRAPD is seeking volunteers to operate our newly arrived XT-456 Dragon Flame-Throwing Backpack. Bring your own bandages.
Ashby is reloading at email@example.com