Tanks on American Streets


One of the “Police Militarization” tropes circulating around is the “OMG! LOOK! Cops are using TANKS on American streets!”. Some of the more militarily knowledgeable people may couch it as “Police are using weapons of war/military equipment/etc…” but the implications are the same.

What I think… is many folks are ignorant about what these vehicles are and what they are used for. Either that, or they are willfully ignoring what these trucks truly are.

First of all, lets be clear that American Law Enforcement has been using “military style weapons” and armored vehicles for YEARS.

NYPDriotbike_700

armored_car

coptank

bikegun

copgun

Just like back in the Prohibition days, when the “Mob” was running the streets with Tommy Guns, your Police Officers are expected to deal with situations like this:

All an Armored Truck does is protect people from bullets.

That being said. There seems to be a lot of confusion between MRAPS and other Armored Vehicles.

1391774718000-hamburg-swat

An MRAP is a Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle. Used by the military, its really just a large truck with armor plating. It’s not a “Tank”, it isn’t built with any integral weapons. Weapons can be mounted on it, but weapons can be mounted on a pick-up truck too.

When the military decides it doesn’t need them any longer it has been offering them to LE vs scrapping them or putting them in a field somewhere to rust.

Another vehicle commonly used by American LE is the “Bearcat”, made by Lenco Armored Vehicles. The Bearcat is specifically made for LE and is purchased by an Agency outright or with the assistance of grant funds.

Nash_Bearcat

They are not the same vehicles, but I see Bearcats called “military vehicles” or MRAP’s all the time. IMO, the current “issue” with armored vehicles appears to be more about MRAPS being former “military Vehicles” than it is about what they are in essence, a vehicle that allows police to drive up to or through an area they know or suspect will have a high probability of weapons fire.

The appeal of the MRAP to LE is that, unlike having to come up with the 200+K for a BEARCAT, the government provides an armored vehicle, free of charge, to the municipality receiving it.

brinks

Armored cars routinely travel our roads to protect cash. Police armored vehicles protect people. My personal opinion is that the MRAP issue is more about how the vehicle “looks”…combined with peoples political leanings…I think that if we drove around in a Brinks Truck nobody would complain.

I even recently read some articles stating that “being a cop is dangerous…you are expected to accept risk to your life”…the implication being “we don’t think you should have armored vehicles so just accept the risk of getting shot”.

Just this year some officers near me had their squad cars shot up by rifle fire responding to a domestic. One was injured by glass. The SWAT Team that responded to the resulting armed barricade was also shot up. But because they were in a BEARCAT they were able to operate in the area and apprehend the guy.

So they should just accept the risk of having been shot there because some folks think having an armored vehicle is “militarization”? To be blunt…go @#$% yourself if that’s your opinion.

Yes, as a Cop, yes… I accept risking my life to protect others. I don’t accept risking my life over your politics or your tin hat fears that we are going to use these trucks to take your weapons and round you up for some FEMA camp.

If the real issue is that your local cops are using their equipment when it’s not necessary, you should be dealing with the decision makers at you local PD. Don’t put people at risk over hyped up fears about equipment.

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2 thoughts on “Tanks on American Streets”

  1. I feel the problem here isn’t so much that cops aren’t being protected – the problem is that people believe that cops see EVERY situation they encounter as someone with an AK or is ready to kill them (like the LA shootings that you featured here).
    The way it was explained to me is to take the example of a man who has had a bad day at work. He comes home and his wife and/or his child says something that annoys him. As a first response, he physically hits/beats his wife/child as a response to their action(s). Now what the wife and/or child did has had no relation to what happened at work yet has received what the man thinks about what happened at work.
    As a non-LEO affiliated citizen I have spoken with some cops and the danger is there; I was shown that a routine traffic stop can turn lethal in a split second, so vigilance and the right tools are needed to deal with situations. But again, I feel that the problem is that cops aren’t armed enough, it’s that they’re using all their new toys for the wrong reasons and situations. What do you think?

  2. Drew..

    My biggest problem on this issue is the broad brushing.

    “The COPS see every encounter…”

    “THEY’RE using all their new toys…”

    etc.

    If I were to make general statements like that about people of a certain race I’d (rightfully) be called a bigot. Not all cops are misusing or overusing equipment regardless of what the interwebs say. SOME are.

    And I find the overfocus on the tools somewhat overboard. It’s the actions of the police that matter, not what they are wearing or holding.

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