Local law enforcement agencies say military-style equipment is necessary

San Bernardino Officers were able to take down the suspects, in part because they used military-type equipment. But many law enforcement agencies said their equipment is being taken away. This after President Obama talked back in May about how the police seemed too militarized in wake of riots in Ferguson, Missouri.

“The part of the vehicle that is designed to be ambushed protected or bullet resistant starts here and goes toward the back,” San Marcos Police Chief Chase Stapp speaks of their military style equipment.

The San Marcos Police Department acquired their Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicle or MRAP from the 1033 Military Surplus program back in 2013. “It's been a huge hit for us when it comes to rescuing folks and evacuating folks who are flooded in. Unfortunately, we've had too many of those incidences in the last year,” Chief Stapp said. 

They have rescued more than 750 people with the MRAP. Last October, they had to evacuate all the students at Travis Elementary School after it flooded.

After the riots in Ferguson last year, President Obama issued an order to take back some equipment he said is made for the battlefield and not appropriate for local police.

“We've seen how militarized gear can sometimes give people the feeling that there's an occupying force, as opposed to a force that's part of the community that's protecting them and serving them. It can alienate and intimidate local residents and sends the wrong message,” he said.

The MRAP in San Marcos is a militarized vehicle, but is not under recall which Chief Stapp said he's thankful for, because if they had an active shooter in San Marcos, it would be their first asset.

“The reality is that we do face those types of scenarios. We go against people occasionally that are armed the way our advisories in these conflicts are armed. So we've got to be able to get in there safely, rescue the folks that need to be rescued, and not put our officers in too much danger. In a situation where we would need to use it in that way, to be quite honest with you, we want it to be intimidating to the people that are out there to cause us harm,” Chief Stapp said.

Only certain equipment handed out by the 1033 program will be taken back such as armored tracked vehicles, weaponized aircraft and vehicles, .50-caliber firearms and ammo, bayonets, and camouflage..

Bastrop and Georgetown both said they acquired an MRAP under the program. They have not received any notices those will be recalled.

Chief Wayne Nero of the Georgetown Police Department released this statement on the debate:

“There has been considerable national debate over the militarization of police to include the use of armored vehicles.  This has been a polarizing issue for some and politicized by many.  The extreme views on either side of the debate have reduced the quality of open civil discourse to a matter of simply choosing a position one way or the other. Facts are important to the discussion.  There is a time and place for tactics and equipment. The safety of the public, to include that of police officers responding to potentially dangerous situations, drives police decision making.  The dialogue should never be isolated to a piece of equipment or a particular tactic, but more importantly, the discussion should involve the leadership and decision making that leads to why a particular tactic or piece of equipment is utilized to protect and serve the community.”

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