A war of words has broken out over police force in California getting a new armored vehicle built more for a state of war than patrolling in the Golden State.
The Salinas Police Department recently issued a news release proudly announcing the arrival of the armored truck built to survive minefield explosions, which it got compliments of federal taxpayers as part of a program to convert military equipment to law-enforcement use.
Critics took to the police department’s Facebook page to ask exactly why a city of 150,000 on the northern California coast really needs a vehicle designed for battlefield use. It’s more likely to be used against its own citizens, they said..
“That vehicle is made for war. Do not use my safety to justify that vehicle,” one wrote. “The Salinas Police Department is just a bunch of cowards that want to use that vehicle as intimidation and to terrorize the citizens of this city.”
‘To stop gang members?” another wrote. “Hmmm gang members don’t riot in mass numbers. It’s right in front of our faces and we don’t see it. Why would the ARMY!!! give something like that for FREE!!! Let’s think for once people.”
Police Chief Kelly McMillin said he doesn’t understand the problem.
“I knew this was going to come up,” he said in an interview with the Salinas Californian. “It’s the militarization-of-the-police issue. People are like, ‘Why do you need this?’”
He said it’s not what the department has, it’s what it does that’s the point.
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“An allegation that we are militarizing has to be that we were patrolling the streets in platoons in greater numbers, that we were setting up checkpoints and searching people in and out of neighborhoods,” he told the interviewer.
The Salinas PD isn’t doing any of that, he said.
Maybe not. And maybe it never will under Kelly McMillin. But that’s not the point, and it’s hard to believe McMillin and the reporter from the Salinas Californian don’t know that.
This country only two months ago saw rangers for the National Park Service – National Park rangers, for God’s sake – turn into a bunch of storm troopers keeping World War II vets out of their own monument, and visitors from “recreating” at Yosemite.
And Chief McMillin doesn’t understand why citizens don’t trust the government with ever-greater weaponry in the hands of a “civilian” police force?
Just ask the commenters on the Salinas Californian article.
“It could be used to deliver a whole bunch of shut the hell up to the citizens of this fair town,” one wrote.
“And Obama said we don’t need military weapons in hands of citizens”