The police department in Guthrie, Oklahoma, recently purchased an armored vehicle through a military surplus program.
The Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle (MRAP), which was once used in the Middle East, was purchased with $2,000 in stolen seized drug money (civil asset forfeiture, anyone?).
Some might think that’s a pretty good deal – the military pays around $730,000 for each MRAP.
Police Chief Damon Devereaux is pretty excited about the department’s new toy.
He told News9 that the vehicle is going to be a useful tool:
It’s the best way to put people in harm’s way safely. Or get them out of harm’s way.
If we have a subject that’s in a house that’s barricaded in the house, a bad guy, we can drive this to the neighbor’s house to get them out safely we can use it to get close to the house to start communication with them.
He told Fox25:
This vehicle is able to go through four to five feet of water and our tactical team’s gonna use it for high risk drug warrants.
Not everyone shares Devereaux’s enthusiasm for the newest addition to the police department’s fleet, as Rep. Jason Murphey (R-Guthrie) explains:
A lot of taxpayers and citizens, I think, are very uncomfortable with the idea of military equipment rolling through their cities.
Does even that minimal cost justify the need for the equipment? How many times are these pieces really going to be deployed?
According to USA.com, the total population of Guthrie in 2010 was 10,191. The city’s crime rate is lower than the Oklahoma average crime rate and is lower than the national average crime rate.