Jason Miyares asks sheriffs to donate tactical gear, body armor

Published 4:55 am Thursday, October 19, 2023

Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares sent a letter out on Tuesday, one that went to Prince Edward County Sheriff Tony Epps, Buckingham County Sheriff Billy Kidd and Cumberland Sheriff Darrell Hodges, along with every other sheriff in Virginia. 

He just included one request, asking all 123 sheriffs to consider donating their expired or excess law enforcement gear to the Office of the Attorney General. Then in turn, Miyares explained, the AG’s office would send it all to the Israeli military. 

“I am shocked and grieved by the senseless terrorist attacks on Israel by the Hamas terrorist organization,” Miyares wrote. “The loss of innocent life and disregard for human rights is painfully tragic to see.” 

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Miyares said he’s seen multiple groups offering support or humanitarian relief. What he wanted to do was something along the same lines, but given to a different group. 

“My office is coordinating efforts to collect surplus body armor, protective gear, and tactical equipment from local law enforcement departments that want to help the Israel Defense Forces fight terrorism in Israel and Palestine,” Miyares said in the letter. “If you have excess law enforcement protective equipment, my office will collect them and ship it to the Israel Defense Forces.”

Is that legal? 

And understandably, that brought up some questions and concerns. Questions from Virginia residents who asked if it was legal for an attorney general to do this and concern from people who wondered if excess supplies from some of the wealthier counties in Virginia couldn’t be better used in places like Buckingham, Cumberland and Prince Edward, where departments don’t have as much funding. 

Miyares said he recognized some departments couldn’t contribute. 

“While I’m aware that some police departments are stretched for resources, there are many departments that have expired equipment (that is) required to be donated or discarded,” Miyares wrote. “During my trip to Israel earlier this year, I met women and men who serve in the Israel Defense Forces who are willing to give their lives to maintain peace in this region of the world. They are committed to democracy and the public safety of their land, and I am proud to stand with them during this difficult time.” 

As for the question if it is legal, the answer appears to be yes. The Herald reached out to three different law schools and while none of the professors would go on the record, those we talked to said they saw no legal problem with the concept. 

An answer for Jason Miyares

The Herald reached out to all three of our local sheriffs for comment. Prince Edward Sheriff Tony Epps was reached as he was traveling. Epps said he hadn’t had a chance to read the letter yet, so he couldn’t comment at the moment. Both Kidd and Hodges were unavailable by presstime.