- The Washington Times - Monday, November 25, 2013

Law enforcement departments around the nation have been scooping up military castoffs, bolstering their crime-fighting units with “intimidating” surplus supplies — such as 18-ton, armor-protecting fighting vehicles.

The vehicles come complete with gun turrets and bulletproof glass, built to protect soldiers on overseas battle-zone deployments from roadside bombs, The Associated Press reported.

The vehicles, built for $500,000 each during the Iraq conflict, are being given away free by the Department of Defense to select law enforcement agencies. So far, 165 of the MRAPs, or mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicles, have been distributed, AP said.

And what do the police use them for?

For even the most routine of responsibilities, such as serving warrants. They also use them in hostage cases, AP said.

“It’s armored. It’s heavy. It’s intimidating. And it’s free,” said Albany County, N.Y., Sheriff Craig Apple, who heads one of the law enforcement agencies accepting the equipment, AP said.

The American Civil Liberties Union, meanwhile, is decrying the trend. MRAPS only get about five miles per gallon, proving an expensive addition to local taxpayer-funded agencies. And civil rights activists say the hand-me-downs are only militarizing the nation’s police.

“One of our concerns with this is it has a tendency to escalate violence,” said Kara Dansky, an ACLU Center for Justice senior counsel, in the AP report.

Military officials say they’ve received 731 more requests from police around the nation for the MRAPS.


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