BOARDMAN, Ohio (WKBN) — A number of local police agencies have a huge new tool in their arsenals.
Boardman is one of several departments to take possession of surplus military M-RAP vehicles, which stands for mine-resistant and ambush-protected. The others are Niles police, the Columbiana County Sheriff’s Department and the Mahoning Valley Law Enforcement Task Force.
They originally were purchased for use by the Army and Marines in Afghanistan, but with the war coming to an end, thousands of the trucks are being offered to U.S. police agencies. The Mahoning Valley Law Enforcement Task Force already has an armored vehicle for crisis situations, but authorities say the M-RAP will give police more versatility.
“More importantly, the people involved that would be in some kind of crisis situation, this truck has the ability to drive through a wall, so if somebody is inside a building that we need to get out in some kind of scenario, this just increased our ability immensely,” said Mahoning Valley Law Enforcement Task Force Det. Sgt. John Elberty.
Although the vehicles are worth more than $700,000 each when purchased new, the military is providing them essentially free-of-charge as surplus equipment. Civilian agencies only have to pay about $6,000 in shipping costs.
Local police said the trucks would potentially end up as scrap if no one was able to use them.
Police officials admit the new vehicles will not do much to convince critics that American law enforcement is becoming too militaristic, but they claim the trucks will provide them, and the public, with more protection during violent situations like armed standoffs or mass casualty incidents.