When I lived over in the UK, gas cost $10 a gallon. The Land of Hope and Glory is an oil-producing nation. And yet the UK boasts the highest pump prices in Europe. That’s because all but a fraction of the cost goes straight to the Her Majesty’s Government’s Department of Inland Revenue. When I kvetched to my accountant about taking out a second mortgage to visit Scotland he laughed. “Compared to all the other ways the Exchequer drains your wallet that’s nothing.” But it wasn’t nothing. Sky-high gas prices were a personal, visible and constant reminder of the Nanny State’s commitment to socialist principles—for those who are paying attention. Kinda like an MRAP . . .
Coming soon to your local sheriff: 18-ton, armor-protected military fighting vehicles with gun turrets and bulletproof glass that were once the U.S. answer to roadside bombs during the Iraq war.
For police and sheriff’s departments, which have scooped up 165 of the mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicles, or MRAPS, since they became available this summer, the price and the ability to deliver shock and awe while serving warrants or dealing with hostage standoffs was just too good to pass up.
“It’s armored. It’s heavy. It’s intimidating. And it’s free,” said Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple, among five county sheriff’s departments and three other police agencies in New York that have taken delivery of an MRAP.
In the picture at the top of this post, Warren County NY Undersheriff Shawn Lamouree poses in front of his “free” MRAP. Warren County was named after General Joseph Warren, an American Revolutionary War hero who fought against British tyranny at the Battle of Bunker Hill. Population: 65,707. Here’s a snap of downtown Lake George, one of the upstate County’s larger municipalities.
Now imagine Undersheriff Shawn Lamouree’s MRAP cruising down that street. Which, of course, it won’t. Not on a regular basis. Undersheriffs aren’t stupid. They know “intimidation” is a double-edged sword. An MRAP may strike fear into the heart of a crazed killer, but it’s also true that an American citizen watching one of these heavily armored behemoths lumbering down a road may suddenly realize that they’re living in a militarized police state.
Don’t get me wrong. There are plenty of small town residents who’d contemplate an MRAP’s progress and feel a sense of security. Pride, even. But there are just as many, I hope, who would experience a sense of outrage and fear. Outrage because they know that MRAPs aren’t free; their tax dollars paid for the vehicles (approx. $500k per unit). Maintenance, gas, labor—it all adds up. Fast. Fear because what the hell is an MRAP doing in Warren County New York?
In Warren County, at the southern edge of the Adirondack Mountains, Undersheriff Shawn Lamouree said its MRAP, which can hold six people and reach 65 mph, will have its turret closed up except for a small slot, the only place to fire a gun. Its bulletproof windows don’t open. The proposed retrofit, including new seating, loudspeakers and emergency lights, would cost an estimated $70,000. The department has applied for grants.
“We have no plans of mounting a machine gun,” he said. “The whole idea is to protect the occupants.”
While Warren County’s Lamouree acknowledged the MRAP will likely spend most of its time in a heated garage, with “minimal” maintenance costs, it could be used occasionally by the emergency response team, which has used armored vehicles to serve drug warrants.
“We live in the North Country,” he said. “It’s very common for people to have high-powered hunting rifles.”
I don’t think I need to explain the inanity of that remark, save to say that Warren County isn’t home to a large number of hunting rifle-armed insurrectionist insurgents—at least not yet. And the Undersheriff’s SWAT team has to come out of the MRAP at some point. Ah yes, the SWAT team . . .
Warren County has one of those, obviously. As do thousands of American cities and towns. Just like the MRAPs, SWAT teams are kept on the DL lest they lead tax payers into wondering why they’re paying for a military-style strike force in their not-so-crime-ridden hometown. Unlike MRAPs, SWAT teams are a real and ongoing danger to personal liberty. If the cops have a SWAT team (or two or three), by God they’ll use them.
In fact, Warren County SWAT were on the job just recently . . .
It took a SWAT team and nearly seven hours of negotiations to bring a naked Aleksander Michalski out of his Glens Falls home Tuesday.
The standoff began early in the afternoon when police say the 52-year old broke into a house on Boylston Avenue and threatened a woman inside.
According to officials, Michalski smashed a window to get into the house and threatened the woman with an object similar to a hatchet or an ax, all while naked. The woman was able to escape and call police. Officers say Michalski then ran to his home, which was nearby.
Police were actually at Michalski’s house earlier in the day when he failed to show up for a scheduled court appearance. He was not there. Shortly after, they received the call of a naked man breaking into a house.
State and Warren County Sheriff’s officials joined local police at the scene and surrounded Michalski’s home for hours.
Strangely, the first 11 paragraphs of the news10.com report neglected to mention the fact that Michalski is a former New York City cop. With a “long rap sheet with local police.” Did Warren County need a SWAT team to deal with him? Did they deploy their MRAP? If so, did that help deescalate the situation (as if)? Equally, by having a SWAT team sucking up some of the County’s financial resources, did they miss an opportunity to pay for a little more old-fashioned policing that might have prevented the naked Jack Torrance routine?
Back to that hunting rifle comment for a minute . . .
Obviously, the Undersheriff knows that the greater danger to his men—should there be one—would come from Americans armed with so-called “assault rifles” intent on harming his men. I’m sure he’s also aware that New York’s SAFE Act bans “assault rifles.” He also knows that many AR-owning citizens in Warren County are thinking “cold, dead hands.” So the question becomes, will Lamouree and his SWAT homies go get them?
If so, Lamouree might very well need an MRAP with a militarized police force inside, ready to rock and roll. Of course, the mere presence of highly visible militarized police reduces the threat of armed resistance to an unconstitutional gun grab, right? In that sense, militarized police help prevent the realization of a police state. Or so the thinking goes.
Sheriff Apple rejected the idea that the nation’s police forces are becoming too militaristic.
“Nothing could be further from the truth,” he said. “Our problem is we have to make sure we are prepared to respond to every type of crisis.” . . .
After the initial 165 of the MRAP trucks were distributed this year, military officials say police have requests in for 731 more, but none are available.
I say, send ’em MRAPs! And get them out on patrol ASAP. The sooner Americans see the danger of a militarized police force they sooner they’ll move to stop the SWAT team trend in its tracks. At least in theory . . . [h/t DanRRZ]