A child shoots a spit-ball across the room and a 50 mm shell is the response...
This and other federal programs that flood local law enforcement with weapons of war have fallen under increased scrutiny following the crackdown by heavily armed riot police and military service members on protesters in Ferguson, Missouri opposing the police killing of unarmed African-American teenager Michael Brown. Numerous other San Diego police agencies have received weapons from the military, although the MRAP stands out for its high dollar value.
The police department acknowledged that the MRAP is likely to be controversial.
"I can totally see people thinking ‘Oh, my God. Are they going to be rolling armored vehicles into our schools and what the hell’s going on?'" said Joe Florentino, a captain with the department, to local media. He claimed that the vehicle will be used during situations of emergency to keep kids safe.
But numerous organizations and institutions have warned that the militarization of U.S. police has dangerous consequences for civilians. An American Civil Liberties Union reportreleased in June details needless deaths and terror at as a result of "unnecessarily and dangerously militarized" policing. "Neighborhoods are not war zones, and our police officers should not be treating us like wartime enemies," the report states.
The armored vehicle has already stirred concern in the Unified School District, which serves 132,000 students from preschool to 12th grade. Board Trustee Scott Barnett stated in a press release issued Thursday that the acquisition is a "misguided priority."
However, Barnett said it was not the excessive arming of the police he was worried about, but rather, what he considers to be the higher priority of replacing old police cruisers. He argued that the vehicle should be leased to nearby police agencies to raise money for upgraded vehicles. The "Ferguson controversy," said Barnett, is likely to make it "much more difficult for local police agencies to obtain these vehicles, so we may actually have a hot commodity."
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License