New York Police Departments Get Military Vehicles

Eight police departments in the
state of New York recently added Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected
(MRAP) vehicles to their fleets.

MRAPs, which were specifically designed for guerilla combat
during the Iraq War, are being distributed to local police forces
throughout the country as part of Department of Defense’s “1033
.” The latest recipients of these 18-ton, behemoths,
each of which bears a retail price tag of about $500,000, are
Albany, Warren, Jefferson, and five other counties and villages
throughout upstate New York.

Albany County sheriff Craig Apple
the Associated Press (AP) that his department is not
becoming militarized. Neverthless, Apple, whose fleet already
operates four other military surplus vehicles, giddily stated his
approval of the MRAP: “It’s armored. It’s heavy. It’s intimidating.
And it’s free.” To ensure that no confusion arises over its
function, part of the refurbishing process will include changing
the MRAP’s paint job from “military sand” to “civilian black.”

In nearby Warren County, Undersheriff Shawn Lamouree explained
more bluntly, “We live in the North Country. It’s very common for
people to have high-powered hunting rifles.” He noted a past
situation in which the MRAP could have been useful to overcome
barricades. The AP notes that the Lamouree also suggested “it could
be used occasionally by the emergency response team, which has used
armored vehicles to serve drug warrants.”

Although it may be the easiest means for the Pentagon to
relinquish itself of surplus equipment, many are critical of the
increasing trend of police militarization. The American Civil
Liberties Union has
warned that militarization can curtail freedom and
foment violence. Former Reason staffers Radley Balko and
Mike Riggs
in a recent interview the multiple ways in which
domestic police are becoming more militaristic.

There are also practical problems with MRAPs, some of which
when Ohio State University received one earlier this
year. Domestic roads and bridges are not build to accommodate these
vehicles. Even if police can get one onto a major roadway, the MRAP
top out at 65mph. This makes them unlikely to beat standard police
vehicles to a crime scene. Additionally, although the police
departments received the MRAPs for free, they are responsible for
the cost of refurbishing, fueling, and attending to their
specialized mechanical issues. Also, these top-heavy vehicles, for
which the military requires unique training and licensing to drive,
are prone to rolling over especially on mountainous

from Hit & Run

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