Sheriff Defends Getting Military Vehicle: “Truck With Big Bulletproof Box”


Some law enforcement officials tell NPR it’s justifiable for them to take 20-ton mine-resistant, ambush-protected troop carriers (MRAPs) from th Pentagon. Sheriff John Thomas of Page County, Va., says, “What most people don’t understand is that an MRAP is nothing but a truck with a big bulletproof box on it. There is no offensive … capability.” Thomas says it’s well worth having the added protection of a bulletproof MRAP. “I’ve been shot myself. I have seen slugs go through the driver door of my car, through my radio console, and out the passenger door. And it sure would’ve been nice to have an armored vehicle between me and the individual that was shooting at me, rather than having a car that was just being shot up like a stick of butter.”

What the vehicle really is for, Thomas says, is to give his officers better and safer access to situations they respond to, whether it’s elderly people stranded in a flooded hollow, a school shooting, or a raid on a rural methamphetamine lab. The sheriff says although he informed the county supervisor of plans to acquire the MRAP, no public hearings were held. “It certainly does seem to be a case of overkill,” says Kara Dansky of the American Civil Liberties Union. She says law enforcement officials are getting weaponry they never would have otherwise acquired. “We think that local governments can and should demand public hearings when local police want to apply to the Pentagon to receive military equipment.”

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