IOWA CITY, Iowa — Officials in Johnson County say a recently obtained mine resistant armored vehicle is nearly ready for use. The county received the vehicle last month through a program that gives surplus military equipment to law enforcement agencies.
Johnson County Sheriff Lonny Pulkrabek said the vehicle has no offensive capability and no mounted guns. He said it will be shared among several local law enforcement agencies.
The MRAP, or Mine Resistant Ambush Protected, vehicle is a 2013 Caiman 6x6, which typically carries a sticker price of $733,000. The county received it free of charge, although officials did pay $3,500 to transport it and $5,000 to paint it. That money was drug forfeiture money and not tax dollars, Pulkrabek said.
The vehicle, which weighs nearly 60,000 pounds, will be used to assist different specialty squads within Johnson County. That may include the dive team, bomb squad or local special response teams, said Pulkrabek.
“It could really help during an active shooter incident,” he said. “It could also be used to help in a snowstorm or a flood.”
County officials who could use the MRAP, which had previously been used in Kuwait, will be trained by the end of the month.
“It’s a rescue, recovery and transportation vehicle,” said Pulkrabek.
The addition of military equipment by local law enforcement agencies has stirred controversy in the past in Iowa. Last spring the Washington police department took possession of a similar vehicle, which drew some criticism from community members and one city council member. More than a half-dozen Iowa communities have added MRAP-type vehicles to their forces in recent months, including Des Moines County and Marshalltown.
Like in Washington, Johnson County’s acquisition hasn’t been met with complete approval.
“We have a problem with the militarization of local police forces,” said Mark Lucas, an Afghan veteran and conservative activist living in Iowa City. “This is overkill, these vehicles were developed to take an [improvised explosive device], not stop an active shooter.”