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:
We’re thrilled that our LESO program, in our Vehicle and Asset Management division, was able to supply @GreeneSheriff with this mine-resistant ambush protected vehicle (MRAP) for the agency’s use. ?: @GreeneSun pic.twitter.com/NHKOTpcZIn
— TN Department of General Services (@TennDGS) April 11, 2019
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.