Coming to Small Town Near You: A 16-Ton MRAP?
Mine Resistant Armored Protection vehicle or MRAP were developed in 2007 to protect our military troops from mines and IEDs (improvised explosive devices) in Iraq. However through a government program now small municipalities have them including mine. North Augusta is an iconic small town with the population of less than 22,000 according to the last census of 2012. Surrounded by Augusta, Ga. (home of the Masters and Fort Gordon military base), the Savannah River and SRS (Savannah River Site) Nuclear plant one would question why a small police force such as North Augusta Public Safety would need such a large military vehicle?
According to an article in USA Today, North Augusta is not the only small town to acquire such a military vehicle and many law enforcement agencies that did acquire them have stripped down the military gear and reconditioned them to look more “people friendly”. How’s that for an oxymoron. The requirement to acquire an MRAP is to be a part of the Law Enforcement Support Office or the 1033 Program of the federal government and pay a yearly fee of $1,000.00. Of course that is after the taxpayer funds that purchased the vehicle for the U.S. military in the first place at a price tag of close to $700,000.
In explaining the rationale behind such a purchase last year (September 2013) for the North Augusta community North Augusta Police Chief John Thomas stated in an interview with the Augusta Chronicle, “We have to be proactive. We hope and pray we won’t need that kind of vehicle, but we don’t have that reassurance.” The article also had Chief Thomas referencing such examples explaining the need as the Washington Naval Yard shooting that killed 13 people and the shootings that injured 13 citizens in a Chicago park. While this contributor understands the need to be “proactive” one can’t help but wonder (given the examples by Chief Thomas) in a town whose crime rate consists of mainly burglaries and assaults and no mass shootings or massive flooding to speak of, how the acquisition of this vehicle was truly necessary?
Read more here and see if your town is on the list: http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2014/03/10/america-police-military-weapons-column/5789445/