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Are Police Departments Becoming Like Armies?

February 10, 2014
Plain English Version

High Springs, Fla., police officer James Field exits an MRAP—an armored, mine-resistant ambush-protected military vehicle—now owned by his department. Gainesville Sun /Landov

The American version of a police department is a small town, with one police car, where everybody knows everybody else. The town is often called Mayberry. Mayberry was a popular television show starring Andy Griffith.

Police departments are everywhere. Their work is often serious and dangerous. And yes, they give out parking tickets and go after people speeding in their cars.

Many women are now members of police departments. But it is still a man’s world. Police departments want to get the biggest and most powerful equipment they can.

The new toy in town is the armored vehicle. After the World Trade Center attack on 9/11, the U.S. invaded Afghanistan and Iraq. The American armed services made new types of equipment, including armored vehicles, to meet the threats of roadside bombs and mines.

Companies like BearCat built many of these new types of vehicles. Now, the federal government is making it easy for police departments to get these awesome tank-like weapons.

The police say these vehicles make them safer in hostage situations where gunfire can occur. They are also useful in mass shooting situations. There is a case for protecting police officers.

A Lenco BearCat that the Manchester, N.H., Police Department has owned since 2007. Thomas Roy/New Hampshire Union Leader

However, some citizens feel that the armored vehicles are intimidating. They make the police look more like the army. Critics believe the number of times the vehicles are needed is very limited. And they further state that even if the vehicles are cost-free, they have to be transported and maintained.

The real question is what do we want our towns and cities to feel like? The police can defend the vehicles as important when necessary. Citizens say they send a message that threatens their own sense of security and wellbeing.

Source: The Wall Street Journal                                                                                        February 7, 2014

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