Vt. Police Add Military, Armored Vehicle to Fleet

Published 02/19 2014 10:33PM

Updated 02/19 2014 10:51PM

WILLISTON, Vt. - If you live in southern Vermont, you might soon see a new armored vehicle on the roads.

It's one of the newest additions to the Vermont State Police fleet.

No longer needed for military combat, the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle or MRAP will soon be used by police.

"When this goes, there has been a call for assistance because shots have been fired, because there has been a bank robbery, because there is an active shooter situation. This provides that critical resource. It's not our intent to do patrols of the streets of Vermont," says Captain Rob Evans, Vermont State Police.

Evans says the MRAP came from a military surplus program and it will serve a similar purpose to another vehicle already in use.
Evans says the armored vehicles make it safer to carry troopers to a dangerous situation and bring people out. While one vehicle is based in Williston, the MRAP will be sent south to the Windsor Armory to better cover the state.

"It cuts almost in half the response time so when a critical incident does take place it's available when the call comes in," says Evans.

But not everyone thinks the surplus program is a good idea.

In New Hampshire, State Representative JR Hoell introduced a bill to stop police from picking up military items, including MRAP's.

"We're seeing a continued over militarization of the police force and in most of those cases this doesn't lead to a better relationship between the citizens and the police force. It actually leads to a detrimental one," says Hoell.

Hoell thinks police should only be allowed to get one if people in the town approve it.

"We get that for the citizens of Vermont when they see this rolling down the highway, it's not a comfortable feeling," says Evans.

Evans says the MRAP, which could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, was free to police besides the expense to bring it to Vermont and outfit it.

And he says it's only here to serve a specific purpose.

"We're not asking for 15 or 20 of these vehicles. We asked for one," says Evans.

The Vermont MRAP is being outfitted right now and should be in use fairly soon.

As for the New Hampshire bill, it goes for a committee vote Thursday. No matter how that turns out it will later head to the full House.

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