A few police departments decide to ditch the MRAPs
We have written before about a Pentagon program that transferred used military equipment to local police departments. Under the program, local law enforcement got a lot of really powerful tools -- military helicopters, tactical equipment, armored vehicles, and much more.
But it seems at least a few police departments are having second thoughts about rolling around town in MRAPs. As this item in the Miltary Times notes, some Wisconsin towns are giving the mine-resistant vehicles back to the DoD because they send the wrong message to residents:
Some Wisconsin police are returning mine-resistant vehicles on loan from the Defense Department and replacing them with smaller, armored emergency vehicles they say are more appropriate for law enforcement.
The Defense Department has transferred excess military equipment and armored vehicles to law enforcement agencies through the Law Enforcement Support Office.
Police departments in Superior and Madison plan to return their vehicles to the program, Wisconsin Public Radio reported. They may eventually be transferred to other law enforcement agencies.
Mine-resistant ambush protected vehicles are designed to be used by the U.S. military and are able to withstand attacks from improvised explosive devises.
The vehicles have drawn criticism regarding the militarization of police.
“I heard from citizens that they didn’t view it as an appropriate piece of equipment for the Police Department — that they thought we were overdoing things when we had that type of vehicle out,” said Superior Police Chief Nick Alexander.
Indeed, it is overdoing things. Militarizing local law enforcement isn't exactly a great way to build trust in the community. Nor is it economical -- MRAPs aren't exactly known for their great gas mileage.
If more local departments join the few in Wisconsin that are returning the big, expensive, over-powered hardware to the DoD, great. It's a trend worth supporting.