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Why local police and sheriffs requesting armored trucks, known as MRAPs

by Michael Webster Syndicated Investigative Reporter Feb 28, 2014 at 11:00 AM PDT

Over 200 of the MRAPS have been delivered to local police and county sheriffs across America. There are pending requests for an additional 750 of them, according to Pentagon sources. The Pentagon wants to unload 13,000 mine-resistant, ambushed-protected trucks, so they’re literally giving them away to police and sheriffs. Private Citizens and business are exempt from the giveaway.

These armored trucks, known as MRAPs, are returning from war zones in the Middle East.

“The price was right because it was free and it fit with what we need it to do. It stops bullets. It keeps you from getting shot,” Florence County, S.C. sheriff’s Capt. John Crouse told the media. The department used their latest acquisition to replace an armored vehicle the SWAT team had used since the 1970s.

According to earlier Intel reports only a few months back that one of the vehicles was in Farmington, N.M. It stands 14 feet tall and weighs 45,000 pounds. It can withstand bullets and bombs and plow through flood waters and fire. And it will be at the next SWAT situation in Farmington.

Farmington police obtained the Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle, or MRAP, from the U.S. military.

According to the Pentagon they want to give away 13,000 mine-resistant, ambushed-protected trucks, so they’re offering them free to local law enforcement.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the military hired contractors to build more than 24,000 of the vehicles for wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to the U.S. Department of Defense website.

As the U.S. Military pulls troops and equipment from the Middle East, law enforcement agencies throughout the country are obtaining these military vehicles for nothing, said Farmington police Cmdr. Cliff Washburn, who overseas Farmington’s SWAT, or Special Weapons and Tactics, team.

The City of Farmington paid $3,000 for the transport of the MRAP, which cost more than $600,000 to build, Washburn said.

Washburn said the vehicle will be deployed at all future SWAT team calls. The vehicle can carry a 10-person SWAT team, plus one person armed in the turret on the top.

The Farmington SWAT team, on average, responds to about one call a month.

The SWAT team is called out for barricaded suspects or hostage situations. It also serves high-risk arrest warrants, which can apply to an array of charges, Washburn said.

Washburn said the tank-like vehicle can also be used in rescue situations — such as a flood — or to ferry victims away from dangerous situations.

“It’s foolish to leave an asset at home when you might need it in the field,” Washburn said. “Plus, it’s very intimidating. You roll up in front of somebody’s house with that, and it gets their attention. We’ll take it everywhere we go.”

“We’ve notified our friends and allies that we have MRAPs available and if they want them they can have them,” said Alan Estevez, deputy undersecretary of defense for acquisitions, technology and logistics, told the Journal. “They’re a great vehicle, but they’re an expensive vehicle to maintain. Part of that is because they weren’t built to be sustained over time.”

Ohio State University’s campus police department reportedly acquired one of the mine-resistant vehicles as well. The university declined the Journal’s request for comment.

While law enforcement tries to justify obtaining combat war vehicles to be used here at home against fellow citizens they claim the massive vehicles will increase officer safety.

According to many Americans police will use these vehicles to intimidate, harm and kill Americans and the Civil Liberties Union said the Department of Defense MRAP distribution program is further militarizing police forces across the country.

Farmington Police Cmdr. Cliff Washburn operates the Farmington Police Department’s new Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle, also known as an MRAP, on Thursday at a police office on McCormick School Road in Farmington. (Jon Austria/The Daily Times)

The ACLU announced in March it was investigating the prevalence of police departments relying on military style equipment and training. The organization said on its website that militarizing police can “encourage overly aggressive policing.”

“Of course, we all want law enforcement to be equipped with the tools they need to do their job,” said Micah McCoy, the communications director for the ACLU in New Mexico. “But I think we need to question when we use military weapons, tactics and equipment to police a community.”

Washburn said the military-style training and equipment helps the SWAT team diffuse hostile situations more quickly.

“Just because it came from the military doesn’t mean it’s going to be used by the military,” Washburn said. “Traditionally, when the SWAT teams arrive, the situations tend to de-escalate.”

Members of the Farmington Police Department’s SWAT team board the police department’s new Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle, also known as an MRAP, on Thursday at a police office on McCormick School Road in Farmington. (Jon Austria/The Daily Times)


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