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Behind the Lines: Robins Recycles | News

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Behind the Lines: Robins Recycles


You've heard a lot about it lately, in the wake of the protests in Ferguson, Missouri.

We are talking about the Department of Defense programs that equip local police with used military equipment.

One of those programs operates out of Robins Air Force Base.

13WMAZ went "Behind the Lines" to find out how it works, and how you can take advantage of the military's cast-offs, too.

Robert Omogbai and other employees at Robins Disposition Services, combine shopping experiences similar to Goodwill, Wal-Mart and eBay, under one federal roof.

Specialist Willie Mitchell said, "The primary reason is saving taxpayer dollars."

He likens the work to a recycling program, with some very large, very expensive military-grade stock.

Omogbai said, "A lot of this stuff comes from DOD activity that's spread throughout the US."

Some of it is being sent back from war zones. It is all excess.

Mitchell said, "We want the property to be awarded to some home."

Everything from gently-used boots that are donated to homeless veterans, to rifle butts and armored tanks.

Employees sort the stock into what to resell, what to loan out and what needs destroying, such as missile guidance systems.

Omogbai said, "We are the last line of defense. These things could go through the black market, and make their way all the way to Afghanistan and the enemy. We don't want that to happen."

Items that need to be destroyed are sent to a location in Anniston, Alabama.

The people at Robins want what the government deems "safe" to make its way to good use.

Mitchell said, "My primary job is to assist law enforcement throughout our nation."

He runs the program that allows police to apply for used military equipment. Mitchell said, "Whether it's common property that goes inside their office, or they can use on the firing range, as well as tactical vehicles."

Eligibility hinges on one factor. He said, "Just be a legitimate law enforcement agency."

If items a police department wants come in, Mitchell ships them out at no charge. However, the police departments have to return the items to the Department of Defense, when they are no longer in use.

Mitchell said, "It helps them do their jobs better."

The public can take advantage of many of the items, as well. Not the tanks, but things such as exercise bikes, ellipticals, lawnmowers, tools, and kitchen equipment.

John McGhee organizes the on-line auctions for contractor, Government Liquidations. He posts sales almost daily, such as a recent pile of scrap metal.

Anyone can bid on the items. The site works a lot like eBay, except people can arrange to come to Robins and view the items, before buying them.

Minimum prices for things like a boat motor start at $150. Twenty refrigerators lined-up on the property have a starting bid of $50.

Omogbai said, "Quite often we do find homes for the property on the outside."

Whether that's at your home or the local police station, they call it a good use of taxpayer dollars: Reducing, reusing or recycling what your money first bought for the military.

Disposition Services also runs a program that donates used government-owned computers to schools.

The Crawford County school system recently received more than 20 computers through that service.

Government Liquidations gets a cut of the sales to customers. The rest of the money goes back to government accounts.


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