MRAP MOMENTUM: Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles like this one in Arizona are becoming commonplace for local police departments but the Albuquerque Police Department is getting rid of its vehicle.
By Rob Nikolewski │ New Mexico Watchdog
The Albuquerque Police Department‘s MRAP is about to become history.
Chief of Police Gorden Eden decided Wednesday morning to get rid of the Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle, according to Albuquerque Police Department Communications and Community Outreach Director Janet Blair.
“We have other vehicles that perform similar roles,” Blair told New Mexico Watchdog.
Blair didn’t offer more details about the decision, other than saying the MRAP will be returned after repairs are made to other vehicles in the APD fleet. New Mexico Watchdog made a request for an interview with Eden to get more information.
APD is one of nearly 20 New Mexico law enforcement entities that have acquired MRAPs through the federal government’s 1033 program, which allows local agencies to pick up excess military hardware and vehicles from the U.S. Department of Defense at essentially no cost.
In an earlier interview, Blair said APD acquired its MRAP “about six months ago,” but Eden has been thinking about returning it, in part, because, “We have a number of vehicles we use in similar ways so (the MRAP) might be superfluous.”
MRAPs have been the target of criticism across the country from civil liberties advocates who say the mine-resistant vehicles — that weigh up to 30 tons, seat about 20 people and are manufactured at a cost of about $658,000 each — send an overly aggressive message to police and taxpayers they serve.
“It’s a sad symptom of where we are today with the increasing militarization of police departments around the country and the federal government’s insistence on pushing this equipment,” Peter Simonson, executive director of the New Mexico chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, said Tuesday.
The Albuquerque Police Department has come under intense criticism for overly aggressive police tactics. Since 2010, 27 people have been shot and killed by APD officers.
A New Mexico Watchdog investigation in June showed that 18 law enforcement entities in New Mexico have acquired mine-resistant vehicles. This is the first case of a law enforcement agency announcing it will return one.
Contact Rob Nikolewski at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @robnikolewski