Police sporting MRAPs in at least 35 states
There's a new addition looming pointlessly over police station parking lots across America. It's the MRAP, or Mine Resistant, Ambush Protected vehicle. Approximately a zillion different variants of the MRAP were built for the US military during the Iraq/Afghanistan occupation, and, as it turns out, they aren't especially good at doing anything. So, rather than maintain them, the military has dumped them off on local police forces.
The top-heavy, elephantine vehicles are now a fixture across the US: a cursory search of recent news turned up articles like this one in 35 states (links at the bottom). We were unable to find AR, CO, DE, GA, HI, IL, MO, MT, NE, NJ, OR, PA, RI and WA, and please comment below with a link if you find one. SoTP was the first and only source so far to break the news on the Chickasaw, Alabama MRAP, so there are no doubt countless more six-wheeled monsters lurking on the gravel lots in Smallville, USA.
So what exactly does a giant armored juggernaut in every town really mean? There is a general sense of forbidding as people wonder what they could possibly need it for, or how it will be used, but speculation aside, how does this affect day-to-day operations?
Broadly, driving an MRAP will make a person feel invincible. How then, do people who feel invincible behave? Invincibility can lead to heightened aggression because there is no consequence for it, and at the same time, there is no reason to retreat. An MRAP gives it's user every reason to seek out conflict, and the heavy maintenance costs will give police departments every motivation to find uses for it.
A good example of this make-it-fit approach is the proliferation of SWAT teams and military-style raids on private homes and businesses to serve ordinary search warrants. The first SWAT team was organized in the late 60's after riots in Los Angeles actually saw the police with their .38 revolvers outmatched, but today nearly every police department in the US has some kind of "tactical response" team replete with helmets, goggles, vests and black, macho weapons. Something like 40,000 raids per year are executed, many under ridiculous pretense. In one well-publicized event, the Gibson guitar factory, by most measures a peaceful operation, was raided by gun-toting jackboots for possibly having illegally imported wood. They didn't, and even if they did, one could reasonably assume that the Gibson employees wouldn't have started shooting if someone politely asked to take a look around.
So, because they have them, one can assume that the MRAP will make appearances every now and then, and how this will look is hard to say. Will they be used to bash down people's houses?
Will they contribute to public safety?
Will they accidentally kill innocent people?
Will they incidentally kill criminals?
Do we come out ahead as a nation?
Click on your state to see an MRAP article about your state: