Tennessee Sheriff Defends Department's Armored Vehicle With A String Of Non Sequiturs

from the I-said-I-have-several-reason,-not-GOOD-reasons dept

Recently, the Greene County (TN) Sheriff's Department spent the day being owned on Twitter. It wasn't necessarily the sheriff's fault. The Tennessee Dept. of General Services decided to show off the Sheriff's armored vehicle, obtained via the Defense Department's 1033 program. This program allows agencies like the GCSD to obtain military equipment so they can ensure the safety of [checks census figures] the 68,000 residents of Greene County.

This is the tweet from the Department of General Services that became the landmine under the Sheriff's Department's MRAP's wheels:

This gaudy ratio-ing of the GSC tweet -- filled with a long list of responses ridiculing the Sheriff's Department for its war machine -- led to the Sheriff himself defending the acquisition to local journalists. This went far worse than anyone probably expected. I don't know what I was expecting, but it certainly wasn't the cognitive dissonance on display here.

Sheriff Wesley Holt first says the MRAP is for the children.

Greene County Sheriff Wesley Holt said the MRAP has so far been used "primarily to show the kids" and not for any other purpose.

This is attempt to get residents to view it as the equivalent of a monster truck: big, impressive, but mainly just an oversized toy with zero war machine implications.

Then Holt says, actually, it's kind of a war machine, but mainly something that protects officers, rather than assaults citizens.

According to its application submitted to General Services, the sheriff's department intended to use the MRAP for SWAT response, including for barricaded suspects, during active shootings and for natural disasters.

Holt pointed to a police shooting Sunday that left two Greeneville Police Department officers injured after exchanging fire with a suspect inside of an apartment.

"We could’ve took this armored vehicle over there and pulled right up to the front door and kept our officers safe inside that armored vehicle," Holt said.

This makes more sense. An MRAP definitely provides defensive cover for officers responding to dangerous situations, but still probably overkill in a county like Greene's. This is a little better than the "toy to show kids" argument. It's too bad the Sheriff's Department didn't have the MRAP before the recent shooting—

[D]espite the state agency showing off the MRAP this week, Holt said the department received it a couple years ago.

"We've had that thing for a while," Holt said. "What we finally did was had it striped."

W. T. F.

Sheriff: "We can use this vehicle in dangerous situations just like the dangerous situation we didn't use the vehicle in." A police department from the county seat of the county the sheriff oversees ended up with officers wounded while the sheriff's MRAP stayed in its garage. So much for interdepartmental cooperation.

It's confirmed. It's a shiny toy meant to entertain the smallest minds. Also children. It will only be used defensively in dangerous situations but probably not even then. The Sheriff's Department didn't need this vehicle. It wanted it and there was nothing standing in the way of obtaining it. Now it has it and it's not even using it for the things it should be using it for. Chances are, residents are going to have to protest something to see this MRAP loaded full of cops.

Filed Under: greene county, greene county sheriff, military surplus, mrap, wesley holt


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Apr 2019 @ 3:51pm

    Normally with the cases on here with the police falls into shady to obvious territory with the bad. but honestly I don’t really see any problems with this itself. It’s not “government brute forcing phones trying to crack encryption” levels or the standard brutality you see that warrants eyes. It’s more “is this military or civilian police” and to me that never really bothered me as much as what it could be used for. I don’t have a problem with it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 18 Apr 2019 @ 4:41pm

      Re:

      The primary problems are two notions: The police need machines and tools made for war, and the police must be militarized to take on all “threats” (and trained to see everyone as a potential “threat”). The MRAP is just the largest attention-getter in that regard.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 18 Apr 2019 @ 7:03pm

      Re:

      "It’s more “is this military or civilian police” and to me that never really bothered me as much as what it could be used for."

      What it could be used for is the issue, I believe. Especially as US police forces do seem to have an itch to use their toys...

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      michael, 19 Apr 2019 @ 9:31am

      Re:

      It's a waste of money, which should bother any taxpayer. These vehicles aren't cheap to operate or to maintain ( although he probably got his cousin Cleetus to put the stripes on it, so at least that might have been free).

      Police should be focused on policing.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Apr 2019 @ 3:51pm

    Well, to be fair, if they hadn't bothered to paint the vehicle, it probably wasn't safe to send out on the streets -- the last thing you want is a military-painted vehicle showing up at a gunfight and escalating things.

    Maybe now that they've painted it appropriately they'll get it licensed and deployed when needed.

    Personally, I think they should give it to a local hospital for ambulance duty -- those MRAPS are going to withstand a lot of abuse in places ambulances are regularly expected to go.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      DB (profile), 18 Apr 2019 @ 8:06pm

      Re:

      Ambulance duty?

      That would last until the first time it needed maintenance. That is when they would figure out that it's too expensive to use.

      Or perhaps it would be sidelined the first time the fuel tank needs to be filled, after getting 3.5 MPG ("somewhat less in city traffic").

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Apr 2019 @ 4:07pm

    "We could’ve took this armored vehicle over there and pulled right up to the front door and kept our officers safe inside that armored vehicle," Holt said.

    And still be parked outside that front door, with the suspect inside. As any infantry man will tell them, such vehicles get them to where they need to go in some safety, but then they need to get out to do their job.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    renato (profile), 18 Apr 2019 @ 4:24pm

    Finally someone has thought about the kids.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Apr 2019 @ 4:28pm

    And how much annually will the good people of Greene County (TN) have to put up to maintain this "mine is bigger then yours" mine resistance vehicle?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Michael, 19 Apr 2019 @ 6:25am

      Re:

      Zero.

      It's maintenance will be paid for entirely with funds taken from drug dealers and random people found with too much cash.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 18 Apr 2019 @ 4:34pm

    Could have been worse...

    ... they could have actually used it.

    While obviously they shouldn't have the thing in the first place, if they do between the choice of 'people acting like children using military gear' and 'people who act like children forgetting that they have military gear', I think I'm going to go with the latter as preferable.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      stderric (profile), 18 Apr 2019 @ 7:24pm

      Re: Could have been worse...

      Of course now that they've been publicly called out about not using their MRAP in a situation where two officers were injured, you can bet they'll be deploying it for everything from a loud sneeze on up.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Apr 2019 @ 8:02pm

    My town of 25,000 (including several thousand college students) now has a Lenco BearCat armored military vehicle, a $266,000 value, courtesy of a federal grant (and no doubt much lobbying by the BearCat folks). Considered a must-have during passionate pre-acquisition discussions, I am told the only time it ever has gone out is to participate in parades.Even where there was an actual riot, 5 years ago, it was not deployed due to fears of controversy. I say put it to work hauling petunias to the park in the spring, since we are forbidden to sell it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Mr. Chu, 19 Apr 2019 @ 6:13am

      Re:

      If it's the same place/ riot I'm thinking of, I believe the crowd was actively chanting for said BearCat to be deployed!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Agammamon, 18 Apr 2019 @ 8:08pm

    "We could’ve took this armored vehicle over there and pulled right up to the front door and kept our officers safe inside that armored vehicle," Holt said.

    Yeah Sheriff - right up to the point where someone has to get out in order to, you know, arrest someone.

    You know, that thing that's part of the police's job.

    Basically, you're saying this thing would have kept your officers safe for an extra 25 yards over their normal vehicles and tactics.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      nasch (profile), 19 Apr 2019 @ 11:04am

      Re:

      Basically, you're saying this thing would have kept your officers safe for an extra 25 yards over their normal vehicles and tactics.

      I'm not saying it's worth it or anything, but that's not nothing. Getting to the front door without getting shot is a lot better than approaching the house on foot not knowing if bullets are going to start coming out.

      Again - police mostly do not need armored vehicles, a county this size probably does not need an armored vehicle, and this is probably the wrong kind of armored vehicle for police anyway.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Apr 2019 @ 8:11pm

    A police department from the county seat of the county the sheriff oversees ended up with officers wounded while the sheriff's MRAP stayed in its garage.

    Look, those are local cops. Chief Grady and Sheriff O'Hagen got beef.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Apr 2019 @ 8:26pm

    A bulletproof vehicle can be very handy for police use, but these kind of battlefield monstrosities were designed to withstand heavy machine gun fire and grenade attack, as well as survive multiple blasts by anti-tank mines. To date, American cops have never faced such threats, anywhere, ever, yet they want to be prepared for fighting a battle they'll never face, at the expense of neglecting the routine police duties.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Agammamon, 18 Apr 2019 @ 10:56pm

      Re:

      designed to withstand heavy machine gun fire and grenade attack, as well as survive multiple blasts by anti-tank mines.

      Nope.

      Most are Level 4 protection only. As in light machine guns and heavy rifles.

      And 'survive' 'multiple blasts by anti-tank mines'? Nope again. They are designed to give a greater chance the crew and passengers will survive - not necessarily be combat capable - after an IED attack but the vehicle itself will be toast.

      These are not IFV's. They're barely APC's. They are armored trucks and that's it.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      stderric (profile), 19 Apr 2019 @ 7:56am

      Re:

      To date, American cops have never faced such threats, anywhere, ever, yet they want to be prepared for fighting a battle they'll never face

      Of course, they might have a long-term plan that involves manufacturing the sort of confrontational environment in which they will face the sort of threats that would justify using MRAPs (and more).

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Rekrul, 18 Apr 2019 @ 9:01pm

    Assuming they've had it at least a year, there's a simple test to tell how necessary such a vehicle is to any given police department; Count the dents/pockmarks from bullets. If the side of the vehicle looks like reverse bubble wrap, they need it. If it doesn't they don't.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Agammamon, 18 Apr 2019 @ 10:57pm

      Re:

      Hell, just try to start it up cold and see if you can do that right away.

      Odds are its sat on the trickle charger for the last three months because they can't afford to operate it. Heck, odds are it won't even run because something broke and they can't afford the replacement part.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 19 Apr 2019 @ 12:48am

        Re: Re:

        Or the shade-tree mechanic they have maintaining their other vehicles doesn't have a lift capable of even raising a corner of the beast. Let alone any special tools to dismantle or replace faulty parts.

        But hey, they got a big heavy truck that costs a fortune to operate. Now all they need to do is increase their budget through asset forfeitures.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 18 Apr 2019 @ 11:25pm

      Re:

      I'm pretty sure if the side of an armored vehicle looks like reverse bubble-wrap after a year they still don't need it, because at that point they're either using it for target practice and need to be fired en-mass, or someone else is using it for target practice and the problem has gone well past 'local police' level.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Deputy Barney, 19 Apr 2019 @ 8:19am

    Can I put the bullet in Andy?
    Can I?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    ECA (profile), 19 Apr 2019 @ 1:27pm

    HOw many holes?

    So many holes, so little time..

    2 persons...dont mix it up..
    (1) wanted on a slew of charges stemming from a hit-and-run crash that seriously injured a police officer in Asheville, North Carolina, last year.

    (2) Sunday when a driver sped away from officers as they attempted to stop him for speeding along Tusculum Boulevard,

    (2)A woman in the car identified the driver as Joshua Howard and said he lived with her in an apartment there. She gave officers consent to search her apartment for Howard

    (1)"Upon entering the residence, officers identified themselves and encountered a second male subject" — now identified as Bowers

    "For reasons still under investigation, the man became combative, pulled a gun on the officers, and fired shots."

    Two officers were shot. They returned fire, fatally wounding Bowers. The officers suffered injuries that were not life-threatening

    (1)Howard was later located and taken into custody. Authorities have not specified whether he is facing criminal charges.

    HOW in hell could that Vehicle be used to enter a home(apt), and Stop any of this??
    2 hours to setup, for a traffic stop. and MORE police officers.
    And the person inside could of setup and waited for the cops to enter.

    AND where was Howard?? it does not say he was inside the home.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Close

Add A Reply

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Insider Shop - Show Your Support!

Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads

Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.