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Chiefs say military armored vehicles needed, although odd
Members of Congress are calling for hearings on the militarization of law enforcement. But Wisconsin police say the armor is needed. Mike Simonson reports.
This comes as heavy armored vehicles acquired from the Department of Defense was used in demonstrations in Ferguson, Missouri.
About two dozen local law enforcement departments have used the Department of Defense program to get dump truck sized armored vehicles.
“It’s just another tool in the tool box. Now, granted it’s a little bit of an odd tool.”
That’s St. Croix County Sheriff John Shilts. He has an MRAP, short for Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle, a three axle, six-wheeled mobile shield.
“Having been a former tactical officer, I can tell you when you get into those situations and you have to approach an individual who has either been firing shots or is threatening to fire shots and you’re trying to approach with a portable shield, if I had had the option of an armored vehicle to make that approach much safer, I certainly would have appreciated it back then.”
Superior Police Chief Chuck LaGesse has never had to use his armored car. But he's ready if the situation is dangerous.
“If there wasn’t an enhanced threat, the most we’d do is bring it up and leave it in reserve. If we are facing a situation as we see in Ferguson where there has been shots fired and Molotov cocktails thrown and bricks and those sort of items thrown, having something that is capable of taking those impacts and not being destroyed or injuring those inside, it would be in closer proximity.”
Madison Police Chief Mike Koval changed the name of his MRAP to a less military sounding "Armored Rescue Vehicle".
“Oh, it certainly cuts against the image that we would like to have in terms of community policing. It’s sort of counter-intuitive that we’re trying to get close to the people we serve, win their hearts and minds, and we’re going to roll up in what is a pseudo tank? Yes, you’re right. It’s sort of incongruent with what you’re trying to get on-message with. I recognize that that’s a gap that has to be bridged.”
None has used their armored vehicle except Sheriff Shilts says they loaned theirs to a neighboring county.
The military surplus armored vehicles were acquired for the price of transporting them to the state. So they can purchase a $500,000 armored vehicle for about $5000.Previous KUWS Articles:
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