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Show of Force: Small CT Towns Use Tank-Like Vehicles to Fight Non-Violent Crime

The militarization of America's police force took center stage over the past week, as the protests over Michael Brown's death at the hands of a Ferguson, Missouri, police officer sparked a brute force response. The resulting images were powerful in many ways, none more so than what looked like a military stand off against enemy combatant was really one between police and protesters — in America. Even Rand Paul began calling for the de-militarization of the police. Here are a few cases of sleepy New England towns employing heavy artillery in the post-9/11 police force.

When Waterbury's Emergency Response Team set out to arrest two suspects in a home-invasion case early this month, they went in force: Two heavily armored trucks led a convoy of officers to nab the suspects at a house on Laurel Street.

The mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles used in the raid were acquired for free by Watertown and Waterbury, which are among 11 Connecticut police departments to own such gear

Background on the MRAP can be found here.

Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles are armored fighting vehicles used by various armed forces, whose designed purpose is surviving improvised explosive device (IED) attacks and ambushes

Huk Magazine has more on problems with these vehicles, including lack of proper training and cost issues. They also mention that ~

The towns that are on record as having requested their own in-house MRAP are: Norwich, Trumbull, Hartford, Guilford, Meriden, Watertown, Madison, Windsor, New Britain, Ansonia and Manchester.

I'm personally aware of one swat team episode in my town involving a misdirected phone call from the phone company, which terrorized an innocent civilian.

Ferguson, Missouri, was one scenario where the MRAP was used.  I have issues as to what a small Connecticut town like Watertown or Trumbull would do with an MRAP.  Given the recent trend toward the militarization of civilian police forces, can the same thing happened here?

"A Big Ice Breaker with the Kids"

Watertown, Connecticut, a city of 22,000 people with crime rates that seem to be enviably below the national average, now has itself a slightly used Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected armored vehicle. Nearby Waterbury has one, too. All they had to pay for the military surplus hardware was a few grand for shipping and handling (new, the vehicles run $733,000)—and maintenance from here on out.

Non-Violent Crimes Require Tanks?

“This is not a violent city,” Officer Stan Parizo Jr., the Willimantic Police Department’s SWAT Team leader, said. “But we have a lot of narcotics here, a lot of high risk warrants. We have the need here, and now we have the equipment.”

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