Law Enforcement Should Take Heed of the E.O. 13688 Working Group

October 28, 2015 | By Jerry Ashworth | Post a Comment

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALaw enforcement officials nationwide should be aware of some recent changes in what equipment they can purchase under grant awards, as some now are strictly prohibited expenditures as a result of Executive Order (E.O.) 13688.

Issued in May, E.O. 13688, Federal Support for Local Law Enforcement Equipment Acquisition, classifies certain types of law enforcement equipment and vehicles into two categories — prohibited equipment and controlled equipment. It also specifies additional reporting and monitoring requirements that law enforcement agencies must follow when acquiring such equipment and tools.

The Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance has developed a website with information on E.O. 13688, including a Frequently Asked Questions document as to how it affects the Edward Byrne Memorial JAG Program. (Thompson also has provided a news article about this topic on its Grants Compliance Expert website).

So, what type of projects and/or items are strictly prohibited for purchase with JAG funds? The BJA notes that for fiscal year 2014 and prior year JAG awards, no items were strictly prohibited, and that prior approval by BJA is required for law enforcement agencies to expend JAG funds on any projects or items listed within the JAG waiver required list. These items include unmanned aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles or unmanned aerial systems; armored vehicles; command and control vehicles including buses and recreational vehicles; boats (excluding those used for police patrol); tactical or passenger SUVs, vans, trucks and sedans (excluding those used for police patrol); manned aircraft; luxury items and real estate; and Segways, all-terrain vehicles and golf carts (excluding those used for police patrol).

However, for FY 2015 and after, several items on the JAG prohibited expenditures list are strictly prohibited and cannot be approved under any circumstances. Prohibited items include tracked armored vehicles; weaponized aircraft, vessels and vehicles of any kind; firearms and/or ammunition with a caliber of .50 or higher; grenade launchers; bayonets; and camouflage uniforms in a digital pattern). Several other items are included on the JAG controlled expenditures list, and are allowable under JAG with prior approval from BJA. These items include those discussed on the JAG waiver required list, along with other items such as specialized firearms and ammunition under .50 caliber (excluding firearms for service-issued weapons); breaching equipment such as battering rams; riot helmets, shields or batons; and explosives and pyrotechnics.

The BJA has established a E.O. 13688 Permanent Working Group that is making recommendations and other proposals to assist law enforcement agencies with complying with E.O. 13688. It may be worthwhile to keep tabs on the efforts of this working group and to comment on its guidance on the oversight of such heavy artillery.

Let us know your reaction to E.O. 13688. We’d like to hear from you.


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