I learned today that my county has spent a million dollars on a “mine resistant vehicle”


Little ol’ Stevens County, Minnesota, population 10,000 (dropping to between 8 and 9 thousand when the students go home) has been busy militarizing their police force.

Right. We needed one of these things:

I vaguely recall reading a while back that there was a small coalition of a couple of rural counties to put together a mighty task force of super-soldiers to handle Big Crime; they may have made the news for an assault on a motel in Sauk Center. So maybe it “serves” a slightly larger population, where “serves” is a rather dubious verb.

I’m having a tough time imagining the circumstances in which local law would need a monster troop transport. A meth house catches fire, and the gangly, toothless desperate addicts start puking on the lawn? Another cat lady refuses to allow animal services to break up her 50 cat swarm? The corn revolts? Maybe they’re getting ready for a hypothetical “Red Dawn” scenario.

There is a petition to defund the Minneapolis police. Maybe we should all be looking closer to home, too, and asking what kind of ridiculous expenditures our local police are making. This is basically Mayberry — we’ve got some modern challenges, but nothing that requires a tank.

Comments

  1. blf says

    They’ve heard about a mad biologist and his spiders, and are imagining being in a real-life Wild Wild West bad movie as the experiments progress.

    (That was the most logical rationale I could think up. Seriously!)

  2. whheydt says

    I realize that calling that thing a “tank” is hyperbole, but really a non-tracked APC is in no way a tank. Now, the last time I heard someone call an APC (it was a Bradley) a tank was during Gulf II, and it was a reporter referring to the vehicle behind him.

  3. wzrd1 says

    @Marcus Ranum, at the cost of being pedantic, they run on diesel. A bit of gasoline will do wonders, plain benzene even better.

    Still, it’s a self-limiting folly, as the mileage is laughable, we’re talking about having a fucking tanker following it to fill it up every few miles.
    And worse, they’re horrible in safety terms, rollovers are the leading cause of casualties for those riding in those ridiculous things! I’d almost suggest usage for flood evacuation, save that they’re not really much good when they’re in water on their fucking side!
    Maybe an old M113, they can swim – <blop!>, well except for that one – <blop!> and that one and HALT SWIM OPERATIONS! OK, those and Bradley IFV’s were rated for swim operations, alas, only single units ever did so and far too frequently, the troops inside were the ones that ended up swimming.
    I know! Something useful, like an old 5 ton. Good at fording meter deep water, excellent cargo capacity and go nearly anywhere without a rollover risk.

    @PZ, if you want noise to be made, I’ll happily explain the shortcomings of those ridiculous vehicles and why the DoD isn’t using that type any longer, along with the insane maintenance costs and fuel expenditure that will bankrupt whatever foolish agency made the mistake of purchasing that eyesore. I’ll even hold the profanity and give a professional presentation that’ll leave them openly questioning the sanity of whatever damned fool director bought that white elephant.

  4. JoeBuddha says

    @wzrd1, yeah. I took one look at this monstrosity and was thinking can it even take a curve at 10 MPH? Top heavy AF with a far too narrow wheelbase. What were the designers thinking?

  5. jrkrideau says

    I am trying to think of the mentality of the person who authorized that purchase and I am lost.

    I suppose a couple of police officers getting a cat out of a tree could use the vehicle.

    On a more serious note, are the the US police forces preparing for insurrections? An armoured vehicle like that looks more appropriate for the police in apartheid South Africa.

  6. davidc1 says

    @7 The South Africans did have something like that ,only theirs came to more of a point at the bottom ,so it looked like an upside down triangle .

  7. blf says

    Ye Pffft! of All Knowledge says there are a number of different, and not all-that-compatible, versions of this thing. It also notes (regarding acquisition by teh goons):

    The Department of Defense’s Defense Logistics Agency is charged with off-loading 13,000 MRAPs to 780 domestic law enforcement agencies on waiting lists for vehicles. The DLA does not transfer property to the agencies, so the vehicles are allocated to the agencies with costs picked up by them or the state, while the vehicles remain the property of the Defense Department. To receive an armored vehicle, a requesting agency has to meet certain criteria, including justification for use (such as for shooting incidents, SWAT operations and drug interdiction), geographical area and multi-jurisdiction use, the ability to pay for repairs and maintenance, and security and restricted access to the vehicle. Police departments and other agencies in the US can acquire MRAP vehicles through the DLA’s 1033 program, which redistributes no longer needed military equipment to state and municipal agencies. Some police departments have picked up surplus MRAPs with no transfer costs or fees. Domestic agencies plan to use them in disaster relief roles, as they can go through flooded areas unlike normal police armored vehicles, and provide security in response to terrorist threats.

    That suggests there should be, someplace, a record of the “justification” for getting such a thing. Assuming it can be gotten ahold of, I don’t expect too much of it, as it will probably be a cookie-cutter copy-and-paste job — and as such, could be amusing and/or contain blatantly false statements.

    Plus the interesting points the DoD still technically owns the thing, and the possibility it was acquired for essentially nothing at all. Indeed, as a follow-up in the OP’s linked-to twittering observes, “Disclaimer: the column with the costs is labeled ‘Acquisition Value’ so it is possible that just means how much these things were worth, rather than the actual amount spent on them.” I presume the local budget / treasury / whatever can shed some light on the fees / costs, both of the acquisition and the maintenance & operations (usage), and training (if any).

  8. whheydt says

    Re: wzrd1 @ #5. DUKW, if you can find one. Have to be handled with a modicum of care, and not overloaded, but probably as close as anyone can come to an ideal vehicle for a flooded urban environment with varying amounts of water over the streets.

  9. leerudolph says

    PZ:

    So maybe it “serves” a slightly larger population, where “serves” is a rather dubious verb.

    The Oxford English Dictionary gives 56 distinct subdefinitions of (this) verb “to serve” (there are two others verbs “to serve”, both obsolete). The 52nd is “Of a male animal: To cover (the female); esp. of stallions, bulls, etc. kept and hired out for the purpose.” In other words, to perform penetrative penis-in-vagina sexual intercourse leading to male ejaculation, upon a partner whose consent is irrelevant, for the entire benefit of a third party. Sounds like that’s a pretty good metaphor for the situation in your post!

  10. komarov says

    Things will get even stranger once the next generation of armoured vehicle is retired by the DOD into police service and these things start to accumulate in law enforcement. All while costing stacks of money, of course.

    But all this talk of tanks made me wonder if you could actually outfit US cops with the one and only Mark I, complete with all the teething problems you get when you’ve built something new and are trying to figure it out on the fly. It is very easy, in fact, to imagine one of those things lumbering along a street towards protesters, spitting tear gas shells and rubber bullets – and chewing up the road as it majestically sputters on. Of course it’d be black with POLICE written on the side. There are standards to be maintained for any police vehicle, and looking menacing is a big part of that.

    That thing in the pictures – I’ll think of it as a cart since it apparently isn’t a tank as people have pointed out – could probably be turned into a nifty paddywagon. It’s oversized, has the appropriate sinister look – with room for improvement by adding spikes – and the windows are just perfect.
    If not already there it just needs a steel partition between the driver and the back. The wall would also be ideal for things like head-high pins where handcuffs attach or straight-up manacles, all heavy iron, that open with a big old jailer’s key so massive it can double as a truncheon when the already shackled prisoners inevitably resist. Oooh, you could also add some chains to the rear bumper or (outer) sides of the vehicle just in case the wagon fills up too quickly.
    Would a cow-catcher be entirely out of the question? I gather NY cops, those devout community servants, already miss having those.

    There’s one slight hitch to deploying these types of vehicles to the field, sorry, city, though: By sending out mine-resistant, bullet-proof the cops are reminding everyone how 99.9% of their vehicles aren’t mine-resistant or bulletproof. Broadcasting vulnerability and insecurity like that is not a smart move for an organisation that, on average, already feels threatened by handcuffed, subdued prisoners.

  11. davidc1 says

    @10 The ,British Army ,used to have Alvis Stalwart ,amphibious truck ,6 X 6 .
    When we were in San Francisco we had a tour on one of the DUKW’s than run tours around the city and the bay .

  12. steve1 says

    One was at the Pulse nightclub massacre. It was used to ram into the wall of the bathroom to create a breach in the wall. The police were than able to kill the shooter. This probably saved lives.

  13. blf says

    steve1@19, Sort-of but not exactly. Pedantically, the armoured vehicle used at the Pulse nightclub was a Lenco BearCat, which is made specifically for police (albeit there is a military version). It is not a MRAP (Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected), and as far as I can determine with a quick search, Lenco didn’t make or even bid on MRAP. MRAP is very specifically a military vehicle, intended to protect against IEDs in one particular war (they are no longer made).

    Nonetheless, thanks for bring up that example!

  14. Cal says

    I wonder how much of this spending is to keep their current budgets. Having worked in State agencies in the past and currently working in Tech distribution, we see a lot of big purchases at the end of the fiscal year simply because if the agency does not use all the allotted budget they will lose that in the next year. So while I am sure it is not the entire issue with the police here, it is a problem with how budgets are used in a government capacity as it leads to encouraging these types of spending.Maybe they should use more of the budget on body cams and not military gear.

  15. chrislawson says

    steve1–

    I can understand specialised response teams having access to military-grade equipment for situations like the Pulse hostage situation. But there needs to be incredibly strong civilian oversight and proper training of the specialised units not just in how to use their superduper equipment but in de-escalation to prevent officers leaping to use it because it’s there. And there’s cerrtainly no need for every county in the US to have near-million-dollar APCs.

    It’s essentially a very clever scam by the DoD to have a large chunk of their operating costs underwritten by gung-ho county police departments without losing ownership. Remember this every time the police complain about being poorly paid for their dangerous job. According to this site, the average Minnesota police base salary is $70K. This one vehicle is worth twelve police officers’ annual salary.

  16. lochaber says

    I don’t care what it costs.

    When someone has a new toy, a new tool, a new piece of gear, or even a new weapon, what they want to do most in the world is find a reason to use it.

    Domestic agencies plan to use them in disaster relief roles, as they can go through flooded areas unlike normal police armored vehicles, and provide security in response to terrorist threats.

    a

    That’s some bullshit right there. Granted, I’m hardly an expert on flood relief efforts, but I would imagine a couple of Zodiacs and maybe even some kayaks would both be more useful and less expensive than a fucking armored vehicle.

    And “terrorist threats”? that’s not how terrorism works. it’s not a fucking extended firefight, it’s a one-and-done attempt to kill people, damage property, and most importantly, scare people – also called “Terrorize” And anyways, I’m fairly certain we send our typical infantry soldier/Marine into combat with less gear than what is in the typical cop car.

  17. John Morales says

    lochaber:

    And anyways, I’m fairly certain we send our typical infantry soldier/Marine into combat with less gear than what is in the typical cop car.

    Weak objection; the USA uses a combined arms strategy (not to mention air supremacy).
    The infantry is just one component.

    (And it buys into the narrative that the USA is a “battle space”)

  18. says

    I see these things all the time. Then again, I live about three miles from the main gate of Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, the biggest marine installation in the world. So bank robbers in rural Minnesota are making IEDs and scattering them on their getaway routes? Ridiculous.

  19. Kagehi says

    lol Does it have a giant electromagnet on top, which when activated lets the cops grab all metal weapons away from criminals, al la Mystery Men?

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