Poll: Do NJ police need to have military style vehicles?
Military style vehicles, along the lines of what you’ve seen on the local news fighting the war in Iraq and Afghanistan are coming to New Jersey.
At least 2 are – unarmed – and will be going to Bergen County from the Department of Defense free of charge.
Minus the cost of maintaining them and training staff in how to use them.
As you can imagine, the outcry over acquiring them has begun.
Despite the fact that the Bergen County Prosecutor John Molinelli supports the plan, he did agree with Attorney General Eric Holder that acquiring them sends the wrong message, and is quoted as saying that "these Tienanmen Square-like tactics have no place in our society and, when improperly deployed such as in Ferguson, cast an unfair light upon law enforcement."
As you can imagine, the ACLU has gotten into the act saying, in effect that the armored vehicles could lead to the destruction of property and undermine civil liberties.
Bergen County Executive Kathleen Donovan has asked Sheriff Michael Saudino to rescind his request, stating they have no purpose in the county.
Saudino claims that only one will be used, that it will be unarmed, used in emergency situations such as high water rescues; while the other will be used for spare parts.
John Molinelli, the Bergen County Prosecutor, still supports a plan for the county to acquire two mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicles despite criticism over their use in Ferguson, Mo.
While he criticized the "Tiananmen Square-like tactics" used in Missouri to quell protests over the police shooting of an unnarmed teen, he said there was no reason for the Bergen County Sheriff not to accept the two MRAPs, which are being given free by the Department of Defense.
The American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey has asked Sheriff Michael Saudino to withdraw his request to acquire the vehicles. In a letter, the organization said the armored vehicles could lead to "increased risks of violence, property destruction and undermined civil liberties."
Saudino has asserted that the MRAPs won't be armed with weapons. He said they could be used in a range of emergency situations, including high-water rescues.
Does the expression, “if they’re for free, they’re for me!” apply here?
I would think that the police department would have whatever equipment necessary given the emergency. And if not, certainly the National Guard would be able to lend whatever equipment they’d have as well.
Militarizing the police sounds like something out of World War II Germany or the Russian invasion of Czechoslovakia.
The need isn’t there – the expense isn’t necessary – and the message at this time is all wrong.