Local law enforcement agents don’t routinely encounter roadside bombs or military-style ambush attacks from armed insurgents. But reports from throughout the Nation indicate that small-town agencies are seemingly becoming increasingly prepared for such realities, thanks to Federal military surplus programs.
Officers at the Dallas County Sheriff’s Department in Texas got their hands on a MaxxPro MRAP tactical vehicle this month, thanks to a Defense Department surplus program. The 19-ton, diesel-powered vehicle comes equipped with bulletproof doors and tires, and is capable of withstanding heavy arms fire and roadside bomb attacks.
“The MaxxPro MRAP is built to withstand ballistic arms fire, mine blasts, IEDs, and other emerging threats,” according to the Navistar website. “Its V-shaped hull helps deflect blasts out and away from the crew and its armoring can be customized to meet any mission requirement.”
Left over from an arms buildup resulting from the United States’ Mideast military interventionism over the past decade and a half, Dallas County’s MRAP never made it overseas. With fewer than 10,000 service miles, the military vehicle is practically brand new.
So what exactly does the civilian law enforcement agency plan to do with its new military muscle? Well, you know, just regular police business.
“Having a tactical vehicle will not only provide warrants execution with the equipment to assist in performing their jobs, but will provide an overall safety arch,” Chief Deputy Marlin Suell reportedly wrote to county commissioners in informing them of the acquisition.
The vehicle, like most surplus equipment being acquired by civilian enforcement agencies, was also bought on the cheap. Dallas County obtained the armored war machine — which initially cost taxpayers $600,000 — for the cost of transporting it from Fort Hood.
Dallas County is a recent example of hundreds of towns throughout the Nation in which small law agencies have acquired heavy-duty military equipment.
In August, to the dismay of a number of residents, police in Concord, N.H., were given a Federal grant for a Lenco Bearcat armored vehicle.
The Concord Patch explained the justification for needing the vehicle in July:
In previous letters, statements, and discussions with the Concord Police Chief, he justified the grant request as a much needed item by the police for officer safety and he used examples of where similar vehicles have been used or needed prior in New Hampshire, including a shooting in Concord. One additional flawed reason was the failed Greenland incident in which police officers were shot, and one killed. Let this be my prime example.
The Chief states that such a vehicle is needed to protect police from up to .50 caliber bullets and is to be used to get police up close and personal to incidents and protect them.
But many people in the area disagree that local police need such militarized equipment. One resident who petitioned against the purchase of the vehicle encouraged people to watch a commercial made for the Lenco Bearcat. She described the advertisement thusly, “This ‘commercial’ represents the wet dream of the common, ignorant bully. It’s a Hollywood action movie crossed with a Chevy truck ad, complete with a 90s butt rock soundtrack and plenty of slow-motion gun porn.”
Here’s the spot:
New Hampshire State Representative George Lambert (R-Litchfield), during the debate over whether Concord should purchase the military vehicle, made the case for why stories of militarized police departments should worry the general public.
“There are more of these vehicles in America today than we had tanks in World War II,” he said, adding that citizens should be worried about the government using arbitrary power and oppression against its people.
“When the public says no, it’s no,” he continued, referencing the local government’s push to acquire the vehicle despite public outcry.