The Columbia County Sheriff's Office was able to purchase more weapons, surveillance equipment, explosives, protective gear and computers in the past year because of condemned properties and seized drug money.
"If we seize your vehicle and sell it at an auction, those proceeds go into an account that can be used for certain items,'' said sheriff's Capt. Steve Morris.
The spending of that money was accounted for in the office's required Federal Annual Certification Report, which the sheriff's office has submitted to a Columbia County Commission committee for approval. The report had to be submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice by Aug. 30.
The largest expense of funds listed in the report from the condemnation account was on firearms and weapons at a total of $45,210.
Morris said the firearms were needed to replace old weapons being used by the sheriff's office Special Response Team, which is similar to a SWAT team.
Overall, the sheriff's office spent $94,687 in such funds for the fiscal year, including $9,919 on communications and computers, $2,792 on body armor and protective gear and $10,985 on electronic surveillance equipment. A total of $25,778 also was spent in an "other law enforcement agencies'' category.
The breakdown of that spending was $3,661 on training explosives, $18,995 on a Ford F-150 truck for the narcotics division and $3,122 for light and siren equipment for a narcotics division vehicle, the report states.
Morris said money also was used for a bunker at the department's firing range, where explosives could be stored. Protective body armor was needed for Special Response Team members.
The money available for computers and communications will go a long way as well, Morris said.
"That's for laptops for the traffic units,'' he said.
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