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Homeland Security Gone Wild?

Ok, I can’t help but think that this is a a rather ridiculous case of over-militarization of the police.

Via WSFA:  Troy police given armored personnel carrier

The city of Troy’s SWAT team has a brand new tool in its arsenal to help them react to emergency situations, and it’s the only one in the area. Tuesday, SWAT members demonstrated their new capabilities.

The Troy PD is excited about its new piece of gear saying the department has wanted one for years. Now, thanks to a program with the Department of Homeland Security, they have one. And they say they’re willing to share.

[...]

"It gives us capability, if we ever have an incidence, where we have an active shooter or officers down and in need of rescue or even citizens down for that matter," said Lt. Bryan Weed, "that we have the capability of going in and help getting them to a safe area."

Here is a photo:

Troy, Alabama is a city of about 18,000 in a quiet part of the state.  Yes, it has had its share of crime, but I can think of nothing since I started working at the university in 1998 that would require such a device (or even a situation in which it would  have been used, although perhaps I am forgetting something).  I certainly cannot see the expense being justified (and certainly not the best use of scarce resources).

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About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is Professor and Chair of Political Science at Troy University. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. He is the author of Voting Amid Violence: Electoral Democracy in Colombia and is currently working on a comparative study of the US to 29 other democracies. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging at PoliBlog since 2003. Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. Michael Turk says:

    Part of the problem is the military and defense contractors have a ton of used equipment coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan and they have to get rid of it. In many cases, they refurbish them and dump them off cheap. I posted a similar piece on my blog a while back when the Salinas, CA police force acquired a similar piece of hardware.

    Friends in law enforcement tell me these things can often be had for only a few thousand dollars.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  2. Ron Beasley says:

    The militarization of the local police is indeed a disturbing trend. The city of Portland has a very militarized swat team which aides all of the local cities around Portland.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  3. rudderpedals says:

    Cool toy. No one’s going to call you a pussy when you’re in that thing. FSM help the town’s inhabitants and roads if it ever gets off the police playground.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  4. Mu says:

    A trained professional SWAT team in a big city is probably a good thing. It gets hairy when you get “swat training” throughout the regular force because all your swat team members are part time who mainly do regular duty – with their gear in the trunk “just in case” they get a call.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  5. Mr. Prosser says:

    In a couple of years when they figure out how expensive it is to maintain it it will wind up rusting in the Public Works equipment yard next to the scrapped fire engines.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  6. Foster Boondoggle says:

    Probably paid for out of civil forfeitures by poor clods driving through town with damaged tail lights or just because they looked “suspicious”. http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2013/08/12/130812fa_fact_stillman?currentPage=all

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  7. Neil Hudelson says:

    Well there may not be a reason to have one of these now. But wait until it’s in their possession and I bet they find all sorts of nails for this particular hammer.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  8. JWH says:

    When I see a gadget like this, I remember the milk-factory raid from Dragnet.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  9. Gustopher says:

    I’m sure if they put a battering ram on the front, and maybe a swiss army knife, there would be countless uses.

    Also, I think it would really help the culture of police militancy if all of these things were painted pink.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  10. Franklin says:

    I don’t think this is a new thing. The local police here (SE Michigan) brought something like this in while trying to capture some bank robbers a year or so ago. One of them was holed up in a house in a crowded neighborhood, and I guess they thought there might be a shootout.

    Anyway, massive waste of money. I’m sure the SWAT teams would love to kill some more dogs with it, which is usually the only thing they ever accomplish.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  11. @Franklin: No, nothing new in general, although it is new for around here (and has to be fairly new for towns of the size under discussion, yes? We are talking a city of 18,000 in a county of about 33k).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  12. anjin-san says:

    Over in Marin County, which probably has one of the lowest county crime rates in America, the Sheriffs Department spent 370K for one of these beasts, something the police chief in my hometown apparently though was a great idea.

    Were it not both disturbing and incredibly wasteful, I would say what a f**king joke.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  13. Franklin says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Ahh, yes, my ‘town’ is more than 5x as big. And I’m not even sure if they got it on loan that day.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  14. RGardner says:

    @Michael Turk
    Maybe Salinas City Manager Ray Corpuz has an answer. He has a history of rubber-stamping Police (Union) decisions.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  15. Eric Florack says:

    It is the trend.
    I see articles in my reading list this week, the headlines of which say that the USDA is looking to buy sub machine guns. Both situations reflect a government out of control, and I don’t see one as being more threatening than the other, recall.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  16. anjin-san says:

    @ Florack

    a government out of control

    You were cheering at the top of your lungs when the Bush admin made vast increases in the size, power, and cost of government. You were also publicly doubting the patriotism/loyalty of those who questioned the direction we were heading in. What we are seeing is the logical conclusion of polices you supported.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  17. Lounsbury says:

    It’s not even wheeled?

    Bloody hell, one rather has a sensation your Securitate lobby saw Robocop as a model future documentary….

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  18. James Pearce says:

    Post-Heller, it’s suicide for police departments not to have this stuff.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  19. An Interested Party says:

    The city of Troy’s SWAT team has a brand new tool toy in its arsenal…

    It does seem as though some law enforcement types never grew up…and Lounsbury is so right…fantasy movies about out of control crime and greedy private corporations are not something that people in law enforcement should be trying to emulate…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  20. Anonomouse says:

    What have we here, gentlemen? The police have themselves an RV.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  21. Matt says:

    @Michael Turk: Few thousand dollars for teh machine and then tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands to get them operating properly for whatever task they are designated for.

    One of those cases where the cost of purchase is WAAAAY overshadowed by the cost of operation.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  22. Bob says:

    I can see them showing up in parades and I will give them my best constitutionally protected middle finger salute

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0