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.

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Comments on “Midwestern Town Of 7,000 Approves Military Surplus Armored Personnel Carrier For Its 12-Member Police Force”

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31 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

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.

I suppose that if you knock him down and then park on his arm, assuming the gunman is in the open, the vehicles would eliminate the risk of arresting a gunman; otherwise there is the slight problem of egressing the vehicle and then tackling the gunman. Using the vehicle to bring the house down on the gunman might only disable him, but would also make it hard to see if he rolled under a support and is waiting for the police to appear.

Sheriff Andy Taylor says:

Now wait a gosh darn minute!

The good folks of Mayberry deserve their own MRAP too! I’m not going to feel safe about sending deputy Fife out, even though I make him keep his amunition in his shirt pocket, untill all of the good God fearing folks of this town are able to get their own free MRAP from the good people over there at the Pentagon too!

John Cressman (profile) says:

Yes... and No...

Ok… I’m torn. On one hand, there’s probably ZERO need for this thing. There MIGHT be… but I doubt it. As far as loaning it to “other” cities… SERIOUSLY?! What are they… 30 minutes… and hour a way? How good is that really in a tactical situation were fast response is required? Of course… in a 4 hour standoff, it might come in handy.

BUT… that said… if the US government was offering ME a free armored transport… you’d better belief I’d take it! Heck yah! Next tailgate party at a football game… guess who’s gettin’ the good parking space… OH YAH!

Jake says:

Re: Yes... and No...

The trouble with MRAPs is they’re designed to do one specific job very well, namely patrol and convoy escort versus irregular forces who favour roadside bombs. Outside of that they’re pretty useless; they’re too slow and heavy to be any use away from some kind of road and they’re not tough enough to stand up to modern anti-tank weapons.

They probably do make pretty good riot-control or SWAT vehicles, I guess; thirty years ago the former Royal Ulster Constabulary would’ve taken a hundred of ’em off the DoD’s hands gladly.

Makes you wonder if the US government knows something we don’t, though. Giving them away free can’t be better for the taxpayer than recouping their scrap value otherwise.

Vel the Enigmatic says:

Hey!

Will somebody please remind this foolish police chief of this small, 7k populated town that the police badge is the shape it is for a reason?

They are supposed to be the shield of the people: protecting us, the civilians and attempting to keep order in our communities.

They’re instead turning in the shield for the sword. How blatantly disgusting.

Pretty soon they’ll be killing innocent people in the name of self-defense more so than before.

Ben (profile) says:

Free? Really?

1. Was the cost of transporting it from Texas actually stated? I can’t imagine it is cheap (although compared to the full cost of a new one…)

2. What will be the maintenance cost? I doubt you can take the thing to the local garage when it needs work.

I can just imagine them receiving it and within 3 years it is a rusting hulk in the Police Department’s front lawn.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Easy, if gutsy fix

If the politicians in that town had the guts to stand up to the police, the problem could be fairly easily taken care of.

They want the thing because it’s free? Alright then, they can have it. They cannot however, use any taxpayer money on maintenance or fuel for it(as you know it’s going to have a mileage to make the worst gas guzzlers look thrifty), if the department wants either of those they’re going to be paying for it out of their own personal paychecks, no using the department or city budget on it.

See how long they like their shiny new toy when they’re the ones paying for it’s upkeep, and they can’t just offload the costs on to the people they’re going to be using it against.

zip says:

MRAPs were not designed for any kind of “active shooter” situation. They were designed specifically to survive anti-tank mine blasts and various other kinds of buried explosives. That’s not a situation that any police for in the entire USA has ever faced.

These vehicles are not exactly “war surplus” — most are brand new, piled up in warehouses, having never left the country. The thousands that were sent to overseas wars are being demolished and sold locally as scrap metal as US forces depart Afghanistan.

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2013/06/20/193978665/u-s-army-to-scrap-7-billion-in-equipment-in-afghanistan

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