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
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
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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