PERTH AMBOY, NJ—Perth Amboy’s Police Department will soon be getting a Mine-resistant, Ambush-protected (MRAP) military vehicle from the federal government.
The original price for this vehicle was $65,000, but the PAPD only had to pay shipping costs, $6,500, through the controversial Federal 1033 Program, which gives municipal and county law enforcement access to military grade equipment such as aircrafts, weapons and vehicles.
The MRAP vehicle was used in the Iraqi war and has now been acquired by the Perth Amboy Police Department. The vehicle is approximately 8.5 feet wide, 10 feet tall, and weighs 43,500 pounds.
According to Navistar Defense, the company that designs and manufactures the vehicle, the vehicle is made to withstand ballistic arms fire, mine blasts, improvised explosive devices, and other emerging threats.
“The vehicle that was provided by the military is for use in the an active shooter situation, high risk operations and for high water rescue. It does not have shooting capability and is not for use as a weapon, but as a rescue vehicle,” said a spokesperson for the administration of Mayor Wilda Diaz.
Residents raised concern about why the city needs such a heavy-duty vehicle, and for what purpose it will be used, during the January 11 City Council meeting, according to a report in the Amboy Guardian.
During a city council meeting on January 11th, according to the Amboy Guardian, reported that city resident, Stephanie (Rodriguez) Márquez-Villafañe, raised several concerns regarding the new vehicle:
Why do we need such a heavy duty vehicle for such a small City? It’s for use on the battlefield. Why are we getting it for free? Is it because the government feels it’s unusable or they think that the City will be more crime ridden? With this vehicle, maybe the gangs will be getting more heavy duty artillery. Who can operate this heavy duty and wide vehicle? And what about traffic congestion? I don’t think people will like such a scary looking vehicle in town. It might not be able to go down low tonnage streets. I don’t think this vehicle will be of help to the City.
In response to concerns about the MRAP, Lieutenant Sulikowski of the PAPD responded, “This vehicle can be used to transport personnel to a protest site, but we can’t use it against the protestors. It can also be used in hazardous weather rescue. It can also be used in a crisis situation,” according to the Guardian.
The vehicle is powered by a diesel engine, and can be used in up to 5 feet of water.
The heightened militarization of Police Departments around the United States has been a hotly-contested issue in recent years, as police have inappropriately used tear gas, posted snipers on top of armored vehicles, and unleashed dogs on protesters who are often protesting police abuse of power.
As we've reported, through the federal government's 1033 Program, local and county law enforcement agencies can apply for military grade aircrafts, vehicles, weapons and other equipment that is no longer of service to the military.
"I’m not in favor of a police state, but we have to remember about that terrorist who lived in Perth Amboy," Councilman Jelmin Caba said, according to the Guardian. "If this vehicle can save one life in the City, then it will be worth it."
The Amboy Guardian also noted that people in support of the vehicle said its purpose was for emergency response or crises situations, including hazardous weather rescue.