Vt. police get armored tactical vehicle - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Vt. police get armored tactical vehicle

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Courtesy: Vermont State Police Courtesy: Vermont State Police

Armored vehicles are no longer just for military combat. Vermont State Police just got one of 160 MRAPs or mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles from the Department of Homeland Security. It is essentially a hand-me-down no longer needed for military use.

"I get that it's intimidating when it's coming down the road," Vt. State Police Capt. Rob Evans said.

The MRAP is the second armored vehicle for the state police. The first, a Lenco BearCat, is currently kept in Williston.

"It is very mission-specific," Evans said. "It is not being utilized to just do routine patrols in all four corners of the state. When this piece of equipment gets deployed it's because there is a critical incident that requires a level of protection that traditionally our troopers don't have."

He says before having an armored vehicle the troopers only had shields to protect them at critical scenes. The new vehicles give protection and allow several troopers to travel together. So, what kind of incidents would call for an armored vehicle?

"A bank robbery where folks are on the inside and there's potential for rounds being shot out, an active shooter type of situation, a hostage type of situation, suicidal barricaded subjects types of things, where we either have to put troopers in position where traditionally we would have just had to run through the woods to get there without any ballistic protection," Evans said.

Because the MRAP is for such specific uses, Evans does not expect Vermonters to see the huge vehicle often. But the idea of a massive military vehicle rolling through Vermont is raising some questions.

"From the state police statements, this is not a vital but useful piece of gear they can use for critical incident response as well as protection of the police. From a former military guy's point of view, it looks an awful lot like the state police is escalating their fire power capabilities against a threat that I don't perceive to exist," said Col. Stephen Pomeroy, the associate dean at Norwich University.

Pomeroy likens the situation to opening Pandora's box.

"If one side or the other, the aggressor or presumably the defender starts to escalate force, things can rapidly expand out of control," Pomeroy said.

But for state police there is no question about the MRAP's usefulness.

"I would hope that folks would breathe a sigh of relief when they see that this thing has arrived on scene," Evans said.

The MRAP will be held in Windsor to serve the Southern part of the state. State police say that when a critical situation arises, time is of the essence. Having two of these vehicles strategically placed around the state could mean the difference.

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