Program Takes 'LEEP' for America

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 23, 2007 - U.S. servicemembers are working overseas to build capable police forces, and a member organization of the Defense Department's America Supports You program is helping that cause.

America Supports You connects citizens and corporations with military personnel and their families serving at home and abroad.

"The Law Enforcement Equipment Program facilitates the transfer of used law enforcement equipment to any American armed forces unit to be used to equip or train a friendly foreign police force," said Steve Newton a former police chief, who founded LEEP.

"We do not carry an inventory of equipment," he explained. "We simply act as a go-between for the American law enforcement community and the military."

The program also will assist in the transfer of needed equipment directly to the foreign police units if they're supervised by the United States, Newton, who also is a Marine and Navy veteran, added.

The Law Enforcement Equipment Program began to help an under-equipped Iraqi police force, he said. The program has since expanded to include Afghanistan and other areas where U.S. forces are training, or supervising the training, of foreign law officers.

"I believe that it is our responsibility to assist our armed forces in any and all ways possible," he said on the program's Web site.

The needs expressed by the servicemembers on behalf of the foreign law officers include everything from reflective belts and vests to body armor, batons and handcuffs. Some areas also are asking for riot control sets, gloves and even traffic cones.

America Supports You often serves as a way for a group to network and find another group that can fulfill a request it can't. This has been the case for The Law Enforcement Equipment Program, Newton said. His program has received several referrals from other America Supports You members.

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