Watertown, Connecticut is a town of approximately 22,000 people. In 2012 its violent crime rate was less than half of the national average. Despite being a safe place to live, Watertown has recently acquired a 56,000 pound Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicle from the United States Military at a cost of nearly $755,000. The Republican-American featured a rather fawning puff piece, which involved the police bringing the MAPV around to show school children, much like you would bring a fire truck to the local elementary school, but it did not ask the question as to why a small town with less than half the average national crime rate and only two murders in 2012 would need a vehicle that can withstand heavy machine-gun fire and Improvised Explosive Devices.
This is a new trend in the rapid militarization of police departments. President Obama approved the sale of military vehicles, including drones, to civilian police forces and small towns with virtually no crime have been buying them up. The only explanation given for the purchase is that it could be of use during natural disasters, serving dangerous warrants, or possible “active shooter scenarios,” such as the Sandy Hook Massacre but this explanation ignores many inconvenient facts. How many dangerous warrants are served in Watertown? And are they so dangerous, in fact, as to warrant the purchase of a vehicle that can repel military machine gun fire. “Active shooter scenarios” are rarely, if ever, actually ended by massive police intervention. Generally, the shooter takes his own life at the first sign of police presence, or, in a few rare exceptions, has been stopped by a guard or police officer who was already present. By the time you found the keys and fired up the MRAPV, the situation would have ended. Also, is this vehicle going to be loaned out to other departments?
At five miles per gallon, 56,000 pounds and wheels that cost $30,000 to replace, it would seem a bit overkill for a town that can hardly be considered a war-zone. One of the oft-repeated questions posed by gun-control advocates is, “why do you need an assault rifle?” To which, perhaps we should answer, “why does the local government need a tank?”