Virginia Beach police preparing tank-like truck for SWAT team

Virginia Beach, Va. – Virginia Beach police officials confirmed this week they are adding a military-surplus armored truck to their fleet for SWAT operations.

The fortified truck is called a mine-resistant, ambush protected vehicle, or MRAP. It initially cost taxpayers $700,000 but the city got it without charge from the military’s surplus program. These trucks once patrolled battlefields in Iraq and Afghanistan, built to withstand or lessen roadside bomb blasts.

In a city environment, however, some departments have found the trucks — weighing up to 40,000 pounds — have damaged roads and underground utilities.

“This vehicle will be used solely by SWAT during operations that require transporting of personnel by means other than which is normal,” officer Jimmy Cason wrote in an email. “Execution of high-risk search warrants, active shooters, or the evacuation of persons during natural disasters are the primary examples of when and how this vehicle would be used.”

Cason declined to let NewsChannel 3 show you the truck.

“No photos or video can be taken of it at this time since it has not been marked with the City of Virginia Beach Police markings,” he wrote.

The American Civil Liberties Union has tracked the militarization of law enforcement more than a decade. The group says police departments are clamoring for all sorts of military surplus, because it is free. The agency says when police are equipped like soldiers, they can act like soldiers.

Military surplus has armed Hampton Roads police forces just like Ferguson’s

“I do not want police officers to be exposed to more risk in their jobs than they already are,” said Claire Gastanaga, of the ACLU’s Richmond office. “But that doesn`t mean we shouldn’t be careful and considered about how we equip our officers.”

Hundreds of police departments across the country have asked for, and received, MRAPs and similar vehicles from the Pentagon’s military-surplus program.

The vehicles are generally transferred to police without cost. But after that, local police departments are responsible for all expenses.

A handful of police agencies, like the Saginaw County, Mich., sheriff’s department, have parked their MRAPs, citing high maintenance cost and low usefulness.

It is also a vehicle that has stirred controversy over whether police have taken this military-surplus program too far. The President, some members of Congress, and civil-liberties groups have either criticized the program, or said it needs review. President Obama said he worried the surplus program might blur the lines between police and soldiers. Some of the first national images from the clashes in Ferguson, Mo., showed officers clad in battlefield gear and surrounding armored trucks. That overwhelming show of force led to clashes with protesters and a national debate on the surplus program.

Cason said the MRAP is a vehicle the city’s officers need.

“The addition of this vehicle greatly enhances our department’s abilities during situations that come at high risk to the officers,” he said.

 

 

 

 

 

11 comments

  • Sue Facenda

    Can the VB Police please explain how they “NEED” a “mine-resistant, ambush protected vehicle”. I HAVE lived here for 30+ years and have NEVER seen on the news how the police “NEEDED” a “mine-resistant, ambush protected vehicle” EVER PERIOD! I have not once seen where the VB Police Dept. had to deal with land mines. Sometimes it seems like there are land mines on 264 and I64 but they are called potholes! Are the police really that scared of civilians? If police in VB have become that scared of civilians, then we need to start giving psychological exams to people that are or want to be police officers! The people of the United States are not ENEMIES! Lastly, The US has not been taken over by terrorists like the police would like you to think. There is something REALLY REALLY WRONG going on here!

  • Jim Yanello

    Sue, Mr. Cason clearly stated why VBPD needs one of these vehicles. If it keeps our officers safer during high risk evolutions, I’m all about it. Do you really think our officers are gonna be patrolling the streets in these things. “Execution of high-risk search warrants, active shooters, or the evacuation of persons during natural disasters are the primary examples of when and how this vehicle would be used.”

    • Sue Facenda

      The VB Police Dept. seems to be handling the “Execution of high-risk search warrants, active shooters, or the evacuation of persons during natural disasters” just fine without “mine-resistant, ambush protected vehicles”. Like I said before – Can the VB Police please explain how they “NEED” a “mine-resistant, ambush protected vehicle”? They want this stuff for crowd control just like in Ferguson, MO. JIM YANELLO you are a cop that wants all these toys or a wanna-be cop like G. Zimmerman. Like I said, I HAVE lived here for 30+ years and have NEVER seen on the news how the police “NEEDED” a “mine-resistant, ambush protected vehicle” EVER PERIOD! As a word of warning – – – In Germany in the 1930’s, the police became “Militarized” They were called The Schutzstaffel (SS) translated in english to Protection Squadron or Defence Corps. We all have seen how well that turned out!

  • Matt Moore

    Why are they are getting these things for Free from the Government? Why is the government building a military out of local police forces? Why is there 7 internment camps in this state under the operation of FEMA? why dose the UN have NATO forces here? WHY?????? These are the question people around here need to be asking. The scene in Ferguson is not an isolated incident. This stuff is happening all over the country. and every time it’s the police that are the aggressors. of course the media spins it a different way. But in every case peaceful protester exercise their 1st amendment rights. They never become violent until the police show up with weapons of war and start pushing people around like Nazis. that’s the part the media always seems to leave out. People should be pissed off about this. It’s a violation of federal law (18 U.S.C. § 1385, original at 20 Stat. 152) also known as the Posse Comitatus Act. for them to actually use these things in an american city against American citizens is according to federal law an act of treason. Why people aren’t protesting the every growing police state is a mystery to me. Are people unaware? dose the media cover it up that well? or are people just stupid? Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it. And look around my friends. It’s being repeated ten fold.

      • Jill Jordan

        Actually @Calm Down, I’m more scared of people with viewpoints like yours than Matt Moore. The people that had to go through World War 2 didn’t realize what was happening to them until it was too late. By the end, 50 million people had died. And it all started with the attitudes of people like you “Calm Down” and statements like “Relax Mr. Conspiracy”.

  • Thomas

    They’re getting these for free cause the military ordered thousands of these for the war and are no longer needed. Further more, there’s nothing tank like about an mrap at all. Its a wheeled lightly armored truck with a v shaped bottom. The v is what makes it mine resistant.

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