This is an important trend going on nationwide, although much of it is going on under the radar. It has to do with both the militarization of local law enforcement agencies, as well as with creating and expanding domestic markets for war materiel no longer needed abroad with the deintensification of ground combat in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere, due to drone warfare and other factors. "Bring the War Home," so to speak. Redlands is one of the local cities to obtain a military-grade MRAP (Mine Resistant/Ambush Protected) vehicle--basically a tank. The San Bernardino County Sheriff also has at least one such tank.
Obviously, the community does not take too kindly to being treated like enemy combatants, so there is a lot of resistance to the imposition of these types of war machines by the cops and the feds. So they have had to launch a public relations campaign to whitewash this war machine. It shows that the people's voice really is important in these debates. Let's hope this controversy makes its way into Pete Aguilar's congressional campaign--as the mayor of Redlands, he is responsible for overseeing this madness.
Here's the city's latest attempt to spin this into something positive:
Police department's ballistic rescue vehicle
In September 2013, the Redlands Police Department received a decommissioned Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicle from the Department of Defense. The vehicle, provided at no cost to the City, was one of some 165 of the surplus vehicles provided to police departments nationwide as part of a national military surplus program started by President Bill Clinton in the 1990s.
The Redlands Police Department applied for the MRAP to repurpose as a ballistic capable rescue / tactical vehicle that could be used to enhance the safety of officers and the public when responding to active shooter-type incidents. Since that time, the department has repainted the vehicle and reconfigured the interior to make it suitable for its deployment as a rescue vehicle. While the vehicle includes a turret that will serve as an observation platform for officers, there are no weapons mounted on the vehicle.
The $28,000 cost to retrofit the vehicle was paid for entirely with asset seizure funds – the allocation RPD receives from the proceeds of property seized from convicted drug dealers. No General Fund money was used to purchase or retrofit the vehicle.
Redlands Chief of Police Mark Garcia said “As the Chief of Police my duty is to protect our community and to provide the highest level of officer safety available. In an increasingly violent world, our rescue vehicle will improve the preparedness of the Redlands Police Department to protect our community against any threats. “Just like a gun or a ballistic vest is used for the protection and safety of officers and citizens from violent criminals, the ballistic rescue vehicle is a tool that officers will have available in the event of an active shooter or other highly volatile and violent incident,”