It’s called an MRAP — Mine Resistant Ambush Protected armored vehicle. And though it was designed for battlefield action and deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan, this war machine is showing up more and more often on the streets of American cities and towns. Images of its use by police during the racially charged protests and riots in Ferguson, MO are still fresh in the minds of many Americans.
And it’s largely fallout from Ferguson that just led to an extraordinary action by the city council of Davis, California. After an emotional, jam-packed meeting on Tuesday, the council passed a resolution telling its police department to get rid of the MRAP it only recently acquired from the federal government…acquired free of charge as part of a program to put military surplus into the hands of local law enforcement.
Many people have long been concerned over the tons of military equipment being turned over to police and sheriff’s departments, even to some college security forces. Concern centers on the perceived militarization of the cops.
Advertisement - story continues below
From the Sacramento Bee:
More than 8,000 law enforcement agencies nationwide have acquired equipment ranging from aircraft to office supplies to weapons through what the Defense Logistics Agency calls its “1033 Program.” Law enforcement officials say the program helps their cash-strapped agencies obtain expensive and valuable assets to bolster anti-crime efforts.
A Washington Post report last week cited government figures showing the 1033 Program had handed out more than $5.1 billion in equipment nationwide since 1997, including $92 million in equipment distributed to California law agencies since 2006 for items like the Davis Police Department’s slightly used Mine-Resistant, Ambush-Protected vehicle, a smaller version of armored vehicles used in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The push-back by the people and council members in Davis appears to be the first such move to take the big war machines out of the hands of local police. You can see the report of the council’s decision in the video above, produced by the local CBS affiliate.
Image Credit: CBS13