In a pole barn in Franklin, sharing space with a motorcycle and a boat, sat an imposing military vehicle designed for battlefields in Iraq or Afghanistan, not the streets of Johnson County.
It is an MRAP — a bulletproof, 60,000-pound, six-wheeled behemoth with heavy armor, a gunner’s turret and the word “SHERIFF” emblazoned on its flank — a vehicle whose acronym stands for “mine resistant, ambush protected.”
“We don’t have a lot of mines in Johnson County,” confessed sheriff Doug Cox, who acquired the vehicle. “My job is to make sure my employees go home safe.”
“The United States of America has become a war zone,” he said. “There’s violence in the workplace, there’s violence in schools and there’s violence in the streets. You are seeing police departments going to a semi-military format because of the threats we have to counteract. If driving a military vehicle is going to protect officers, then that’s what I’m going to do.”
The MRAPs were obtained from the Law Enforcement Support Office of the federal Defense Logistics Agency. Local agencies pay only the cost of delivery.
Other departments that used the program to acquire MRAPs included the West Lafayette Police Department; the Morgan County Sheriff; the Merrillville Police Department; the Mishawaka Police Department; the Terre Haute Police Department; and the Jefferson County Sheriff.
Military surplus can save departments a lot of money. In Franklin’s case, Cox estimated, it paid about $5,000 for its MRAP. The government paid $733,000 when it was new.
Morgan County Sheriff Robert Downey and Major Jerry Pickett, head of Johnson County SWAT, said if they had $300,000 to spend, they would prefer a commercial “BearCat” armored vehicle — such as what the IMPD has — instead of a military MRAP. The BearCat is smaller, lighter and faster. The MRAP can’t exceed 65 mph. But they don’t have that money. So they used military surplus.
Full article: Sheriff: Local cops need MRAPs because America has turned into ‘war zone’ (Army Times)