Midwestern Town Of 7,000 Approves Military Surplus Armored Personnel Carrier For Its 12-Member Police Force
from the officer-safety-INTENSIFIES dept
The US government’s promise to give everyone affordable healthcare coverage and an armored vehicle in every law enforcement agency’s garage continues to come to fruition. Sure, the healthcare thing may have hit multiple technical snags during rollout, but the assault-rifles-and-assault-vehicles part is swiftly turning every police chief and sheriff’s domain into Kabul Lite™.
The latest recipient of a free MRAP (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle) is none other than Washington, Iowa, a town of 7,000 residents and a police force of 12.
Tuesday night, in a four to one decision, the Washington City Council approved Police Chief Greg Goodman’s request for a “demilitarized” MRAP or Mine Resistant Ambush Protected troop transport…
MRAPs typically cost about $500,000. [Another article puts the prices at $733,000.] Washington Police are getting theirs for free under a U.S. Defense Department program that gives surplus military equipment to law enforcement. Washington Police said the only cost will be the transportation fee to bring vehicle up from Texas.
Nothing like a free armored personnel carrier, just the sort of thing a bustling metropolis of 7,000 needs, at least according to the police chief.
Chief Goodman calls the MRAP a big win for his officers’ safety.
I would think so, considering he can probably fit his entire police force into it. Goodman envisions it rolling up at a local school or workplace in the unlikely event that an “active shooter” situation develops. Not only that, but Chief Goodman apparently feels his department can no longer afford to be without this sort of protection based, again, on another outlying incident.
The chief said he saw the need for an MRAP in 2011, when Keokuk County Sgt. Eric Stein was shot and killed by a gunman. Goodman believes the armored vehicle might have allowed police to approach the home in safety from gunfire and use non-lethal means to subdue the shooter.
Eric Stein was shot during a four-hour standoff with a resident of Sigourney, Iowa, home to a little over 2,000 Iowans. Goodman seems to believe this sort of threat is persistent (even in Washington, Iowa), despite the fact that Stein became only the second peace officer killed in Iowa in nearly thirty years (September 1985).
But Washington now has an MRAP to deal with its crime “problem,” which include three murders since 2001. Oddly, the grant money isn’t going towards outfitting the town’s 7,000 citizens with bulletproof vests, despite it apparently being at least three times as dangerous to be a member of the general public.
Robert Shellmyer, the lone “no” vote on the city council, raises a valid question about the “safety” the MRAP’s acquisition supposedly brings with it.
“How do we know, having a six-wheel armored vehicle, it’s going to be on the site when the bullet’s shot that’s going to do the injury?” Shellmyer said.
That’s it. You don’t know. So to be safe, you take it everywhere. The MRAP will likely be deployed to handle any situation where officers believe they might encounter resistance, which will turn every banal warrant service into a quasi-military operation. You don’t get something like this and not use it. Chief Goodman says it will be “rarely used,” but plans are already in place to contact other local law enforcement agencies to spread the MRAP around and, in the process, have these entities contribute to the upkeep.
Many people are wary of militarizing police forces, a number which includes a vast amount of law-abiding citizens. The government, however, seems perfectly willing to make law enforcement agencies virtually indistinguishable from the armed forces by giving away military guns, equipment and vehicles to any entity that’s willing to check the box next to “active shooter” (or “terrorism”) on the request form.
The vehicles and weaponry will be put into use frequently, contrary to the assertions of small town law enforcement officials, and this escalation — during a time when crime rates continue to fall — will push these same officials to misrepresent and exaggerate the dangers they face in order to keep playing their martial law dress-up game.