Armored Vehicle Request Documents Show Local Law Enforcement Still Looking To Bring The (Drug) War To Your Doorstep

from the You-Get-An-MRAP!-And-You-Get-An-MRAP!-EVERYONE-GETS-AN-MRAP! dept

Molly Redden and Mother Jones have acquired a stash of armored vehicle request documents from police departments all over the nation. The requests are tied to the Department of Defense’s 1033 program, in which military hand-me-downs are given to basically any law enforcement agency that asks for them, whether or not these agencies actually need them.

Most of the documents contain some sort of pitch detailing the “need” for an armored vehicle, like the ever-popular MRAP (Mine-Resistant Armored Protected vehicle). Some of the pitches mention terrorism. Others simply state that potential terrorist targets reside in their jurisdiction. A great deal of them mention HIDTAs (High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area). As Redden points out, only 17% of the nation’s counties are actually federally-recognized HIDTAs, but that doesn’t stop requesting agencies from suggesting they too are in the midst of constant, dangerous drug trafficking.

Fully a quarter of the 465 requests projected using the vehicles for drug enforcement. Almost half of all departments indicated that they sit within a region designated by the federal government as a High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area.

Very few mention any real reasons an armored vehicle might be useful.

By contrast, out of the total 465 requests, only 8 percent mention the possibility of a barricaded gunman. For hostage situations, the number is 7 percent, for active shooters, 6 percent. Only a handful mentioned downed officers or the possibility of terrorism.

Given that the Military Vehicle Request: Short Form only contains three lines for “Special Considerations,” law enforcement agencies have been submitting a variety of non-sequiturs as justifications for armored vehicle procurement.

The City of El Segundo is located in Southwest Los Angeles County and home to numerous Aerospace businesses such as Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, Aerospace Corp and the Los Angeles Air Force Base. Our tactical team is in dire need of a armored vehicle for operational use.

Former Crystal Cathedral, Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez’ office and the largest mosque west of the Mississippi are all located in our City. We are also just one mile south of Disney resort area and are the fist ones in to support Anaheim PD with any riots/issues there.

Dewey Beach has been consistently in the top 10 beaches in the U.S. It covers 1 sq mile, which during summer months explodes in excess of 30,000 in Population. The potential to need an Armored Tactical Vehicle is probable.

Others are more succinct, if less clear, in their specifications.

We have a Tactical Response Team and are trying to get the equipment to have a good and affective team.

[Side note: there are plenty of misspellings and grammatical errors in the requests. No one expects police officials to be English professors, but a perusal of a few dozen of the request forms finds the only thing deployed more than these agencies’ SWAT teams are their extraneous apostrophes.]

Armored Personnel carrier sought for tactical Operations
Not tracked vehicle – form will not allow me to un-select it

I would like to get a vehicle that is available on the west coast.

But, for the most part, the requests are shot full of drug hysteria. Any agency not presiding over an HIDTA tends to make tenuous claims about actual HIDTAs located miles away somehow wreaking drug-related havoc in its own community simply by being approximately adjacent. If a highway runs through an area on its way to an actual drug-trafficking area, the agencies residing miles away along the same highway claim to be adversely affected simply because they’re “connected” by a road.

Some requests even launch into short but graphic depictions of the communities they serve.

Hartford has roughly 120,000 permanent residents and over 500,000 during buissness hours. The city is plagued by gun and drug violence.

Many more agencies request armored vehicles using little more than “but this other agency has one!” as justification.

And in a sign of just how commonplace the use of military grade vehicles has become, multiple departments pointed out that they did not have an armored vehicle as a reason they ought to get one. One department stressed that the closest armored truck was 30 minutes away. “That’s an astonishing claim,” Eastern Kentucky’s [professor Peter] Kraska says. “Do we have to have a full SWAT team with an armored personnel carrier ready to be deployed in a response time of 10 minutes in every community in the country? Because obviously, that would be very disturbing.”

In addition, there are a surprising number of unofficial email addresses being used on the requisition forms.


Other documents contain Gmail, Yahoo and personal ISP-provided email addresses. On one hand, it’s somewhat amusing to see that an AOL email address has been used to acquire military equipment. On the other hand, the use of personal email accounts is just one more method public officials use to keep their public-related emails out of the hands of the public.

The collected documents show one thing: the government is still more than willing to hand out military vehicles to participate in local agencies’ drug wars. While not every request resulted in an acquisition, nearly every request was added to the “priority” waiting list to be provided with a vehicle once one became available.

On one hand, yay recycling, but on the other, there’s police militarization, which shows no signs of slowing. Vehicles used in actual wars are coming back home to be deployed against civilians. SWAT teams generally don’t need too much encouragement in the “aggression” department and packing them up in a military vehicle only encourages a warrior mindset that’s completely out of step with what many SWAT teams do these days: warrant service. The 466 request forms portray the country as wholly under the sway of dangerous drug traffickers, with the occasional sovereign citizen/rural-weirdos-with-guns thrown in for good measure.

The few, scattered terrorism-oriented requests are even worse, as they use anything that might draw a crowd as justification for armored response vehicles — covering everything from an annual “Pumpkinfest” to a public beach.

The simple fact is that if you give law enforcement the option, they’ll take the most intimidating thing they can acquire. And thanks to the federal government’s wide variety of terrorism/drug-related grant programs, these vehicles can not only be had, but for little to no cost to the requesting agency. That’s really the only barrier to entry, and the government has helpfully removed it.

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Comments on “Armored Vehicle Request Documents Show Local Law Enforcement Still Looking To Bring The (Drug) War To Your Doorstep”

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29 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: that's what I'm wondering

Sometimes, the serfs you are occupying fight back. Sometimes, they even win:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rtaWroCqoaE

(watch the whole vid…if you even slightly get tired of arrogant cops, officious officials, and the increasingly orwellian & oppressive governments, the fact a bunch of high schoolers can win – WIN! – a street battle against hordes of riot police might just make you smile)

Nothing some good Drone strikes couldn’t cure, however.

Sadly, even as I put my tongue in cheek to say ‘drone strikes’, based upon the things I have seen in the last 10 years that I NEVER thought I would see in America, well…give it time. My tongue may come out of my cheek someday with regard to droning of us common citizens. 🙁

Deputy Dickwad says:

SWM LEO seeks MRAP

SWM LEO seeks MRAP.

I’m into flashbangs, No-Knock Warrants, Civil asset forfeiture!! deploying my PR-24 when confronting citizens that litter or look at me funny, and arresting folks for resisting arrest.

You are into accommodating a whole SWAT team anytime for any reason, and intimidating those pesky citizens.

BTW, I’d like to get with a vehicle that is on the west coast.

ThatDevilTech (profile) says:

Wow....

Sad to see some of my local PD’s, even the one in my town, requesting an MRAP….WHY? They have an armored vehicle already. Guess they just want an upgrade from the “small” one they have. It’s also laughable that they say they support 14 counties…..when there are other teams around that could be called. I find it hard to believe that they support what they say they do.

Anonymous Coward says:

The City of El Segundo is located in Southwest Los Angeles County and home to numerous Aerospace businesses such as Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, Aerospace Corp and the Los Angeles Air Force Base. Our tactical team is in dire need of a armored vehicle for operational use.

Laugh all you want, but while you were reading this article, the City of El Segundo lost another 11 men fighting in the dire situation caused by Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, Aerospace Corp and the Los Angeles Air Force Base.

sorrykb (profile) says:

Poor defenseless El Segundo

The City of El Segundo is located in Southwest Los Angeles County and home to numerous Aerospace businesses such as Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, Aerospace Corp and the Los Angeles Air Force Base. Our tactical team is in dire need of a armored vehicle for operational use.

Raytheon is pretty scary. But I’m not sure an armored vehicle would be much use against them.

teka says:

Re: Re:

I can’t find the source right now but I seem to remember that a report from some office found many examples of these supertrucks being down for repairs all the time.

Police departments having to get them visited by mechanics to start it up again because their own garage is not equipped for heavy vehicle service. Replacement tire purchases because they left it parked since coming back from the county fair/concert where it was last showed off and didn’t keep things aired up in the meantime. That kind of thing.

If they were suddenly needed at a crime scene you can bet a good portion of these militarized cop carriers would be MIA.

btr1701 (profile) says:

Armor

> Vehicles used in actual wars are coming back
> home to be deployed against civilians.

As none of the vehicles mentioned in the article seem to be equipped with any offensive weaponry (no mounted .50-cals, active denial systems, or anything like that), the only objection here seems to be the armor itself. And since armor is a purely defensive asset which can only be used to protect someone from being shot *at*, I’m not sure how it is being “deployed against civilians”.

Is the objection that the armor makes the police too invulnerable? That it doesn’t give the civilians a fair chance to fight back and hurt the cops if they feel it’s righteous to do so?

Do we also object to the cops themselves wearing body armor? Is it just as objectionable for a cop to himself to be armored as it is for him to have a vehicle that’s armored?

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Armor

Please, if they’re not expecting to actually run into gunfire where they need the armor(and most aren’t I’m guessing), then it becomes useless to have it for that purpose.

Now, intimidation on the other hand… an armored, former-military vehicle is great for that, whether you’re getting shot at or not, and I imagine that is the primary reason they want the vehicles.

There’s also the cost issue, maintenance on something like that is not going to be cheap, and guess who gets to pay for that? Not the cops.

If they want military-grade gear, they can join the military, otherwise they need to get used to ‘lesser’ gear.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Armor

Hit enter too soon…

Ultimately it’s a matter of trust, and at this point the police neither have, nor deserve it.

I wouldn’t trust them with anything military-grade, whether armaments or vehicles(I suppose they can use the food, not much trouble they could cause with MRE’s), because I do not, and can not, trust that they will use it responsibly.

If you can’t trust someone to use something responsibly, then it only makes sense to want to keep whatever it is out of their hands.

WallyTheWabbit says:

I think the objection has nothing to do with efficacy 7 everything to do with perception – Police in America (in my mind) should never, Never, NEVER be seen as a ‘military’ force.

Instead, they should be seen as ‘Peace Officers’ who do their best to uphold the law, deescalate situations where possible, help the weak, arrest the guilty, but obey the Constitution above all else…and do all of the above with some wit, friendliness, respect, and caring about the community in which they serve.

I think many in the LEO community do exactly this, and I am by no means an opponent of Police.

The perception in this case is that once any organization of humans starts gearing themselves up to look increasingly like a military force, then those obtaining & utilizing such military items will eventually start to act accordingly. And ‘internal security forces’ that are armed and armored like the military tend to have VERY poor track records (e.g., human rights) in most every country in which they emerge, and are allowed.

If one perceives the Citizenry as a ‘them’ for which the LEO ‘us’ thus feels the need to obtain and then utilize an increasingly sophisticated array of weaponry, tactics, materials, vehicles, and equipment, then America has (in a sense) already lost, and may as well just give up pretenses – lets just cut to the chase and establish a nice little military dictatorship to put down any and all forces that threaten the status quo.

Personal body armor? Sure. Standard police uniforms and weaponry? Sure. (although I am *grudgingly* willing to lump AR-15s in this category, and I HATE the tacticool/military/combat/BDU style that has emerged the last 10-20 years in LEO garb!)

But to me, MRAPs (and any armored vehicle) crosses that shadowy line between ‘police’ and ‘military’ and I do not approve.

But I could be wrong. I dunno, maybe this country will soon be so f’ed up that there really will be IEDs on every corner, in every flowerpot, terrorists on every street & mountaintop, and MRAPs (hell, M1 Abrams) will be required in every police jurisdiction in the land from Kokomo to Juneau, from Muscatine to Kennebunkport.

Sure hope not, though.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Agreed with most of what you said, with the exception of this line:

I think many in the LEO community do exactly this, and I am by no means an opponent of Police.

Change ‘many’ to ‘a minority’ and I’d say it’s accurate. The police in general in the US have made it clear, they are not on the side of the public, especially when it comes to the latter half of the statement above that one:

but obey the Constitution above all else…and do all of the above with some wit, friendliness, respect, and caring about the community in which they serve.

There are exceptions of course, but they’re just that, exceptions, not the standard, not the norm.

WallyTheWabbit says:

Re: Re: Re:

I attempt to be fair, and in my own experience (admittedly, a podunk whitebread mellow PNW town) my interactions w/LEO show the ‘many’ to be in the Peace Officer category. I GREATLY respect them, that do so.

In other areas of the country – ala Ferguson – I would tend to agree that the ‘many’ is probably much fewer and declines to the ‘a minority’ and thats both scary, and incredibly sad.

‘It doesn’t have to be that way’, he said, shuffling off to read a book about the Revolution of 1776.

Anonymous Coward says:

Recycling?

>>On one hand, yay recycling,

I was under the impression that almost all of the military equipment provided by these programs is as close to spankin new as it gets.
Coming straight from the factory or having spent some time in an armory waiting to be distributed.

With all those ‘surplus’ material only being ordered to coincidentially being available for 1033.

Arnold Schwartzkoffenagger says:

No Problemo

Not mentioning any actual names or locations like muslim training camps within the US borders, but someone may have to stand up against them some day.. I for one would feel better if Law Enforcement at least had a fighting chance against them when that day comes. Give them anti tank guns and whatever else they want/ need, just train them as to who their real enemies are. And put some restraint on the term, ‘discretion.’

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