INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Will it keep the city of Lawrence safe or is it a military weapon that has no place in a local police department?
The local Libertarian Party thinks a former military tactical vehicle shouldn’t be a part of the Lawrence Police Department. On Thursday, Jason Sipe, chairman of the Libertarian Party of Marion County, explained to 24-Hour News 8 why they don’t like the vehicle.
“In the interests of small government there’s just no need for this type of weaponry on the streets of Lawrence,” he said.
The vehicle to which he objects is a 48,000-pound, 12 foot high, mine-resistant ambush protected vehicle, or MRAP as it’s known.
“There’s no need for this. There’s no boogeyman that calls for a 24-ton tank,” Sipe said.
MRAPs are not new to Indiana law enforcement departments. The Johnson County Sheriff’s department has one, as do police in West Lafayette, Terre Haute and across the nation. The vehicle was designed for troops in combat. The vehicle is part of a nationwide program that donates millions of dollars in surplus military vehicles and weapons.
In an I-Team 8 investigation it was discovered that dozens of those donated weapons had vanished from police departments across the country with no state missing more than Indiana.
“This is not a machine of civilian policing. This is a machine of war and it should be reserved for our armory, where it was intended to be,” said Sipe.
Lawrence Police Department was not available for an interview, but in a statement said in part, “We are home to one of the largest Department of Defense facilities in the world, as well as a new military recruitment and training center that will open later this year. This vehicle will not only help keep our citizens safe, but will serve as an important tool in the event of an incident at one of these national security facilities.”
But the Libertarian Party doesn’t buy it.
“How far are we going to arm them in the name of a boogeyman that’s yet to prove it’s existence,” he said.
The vehicles are modified before they are sent to local police departments. They are then designed to be used in SWAT standoff situations or during emergency calls.