Writer worries weapon of war will alter police culture

The city government of Elk River appears to me to do a great job, and I believe that having a home here is about as good as it gets. The city has especially great recreational opportunities, keeps the roads in great shape and goes a long way to give its residents every convenience; however, I believe that with the purchase of a Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicle for the city police department that our local leaders have stumbled.

MRAPs are vehicles of war developed specifically to resist external landmine detonations, otherwise known as roadside bombs. New, the American taxpayers paid $658,000 for one vehicle and used, Elk River residents paid about $25,000 to get it here and retrofit it. We were double-billed on this one.

What is the reasonable need for a vehicle like this in our city? As far as I know a roadside bomb has never gone off here. There must be at least a viable threat – are we in danger here of a terrorist onslaught?

My worry is that the city did this because they could, and that they justified it by what might happen in their wildest dreams. My worry is that our local police are now even more militarized and are becoming less of a service and more of an authority — I think that folks concerned about the practical reach of government and personal liberties ought to be taking notice of this.

There is no practical reason for this vehicle to be in our community and it is absurd that we are paying for it.
I ask that city officials return the vehicle and attempt to recoup our money that they wasted. I believe that the city acted on imaginary threats, and while that is only human it is also not rational. While I have the utmost respect for our local police, I also understand the kinds of problems with power that some departments deal with. Of all government entities it is the police, in my opinion, that need the closest supervision. Besides wasting our money I believe that the city should not be in the business of putting our police on militarized footing — there is no war here. The culture at the department should be to protect and serve, with knowledge of the laws and the protection of our civil liberties. I would rather hear about the city paying for more police education and training that the acquiring of weapons of war. — Tom Rose, Elk River