Kingman unveils prepped, ready MRAP vehicle
City's version doesn't have weapon mounts
KINGMAN - About a month after protests in Ferguson, Mo., sparked a national discussion on the government giving military surplus items to police departments in the U.S., the Kingman Police Department unveiled its repurposed Mine Resistant Ambush-protected vehicle at Tuesday's City Council meeting.
There is no turret on the roof. No gun ports drilled in the cabin. No grenade launcher, no .50-caliber machine gun or even a water cannon.
"This is a tool," said Chief Robert DeVries. "This is a tool that will help officers enter dangerous environments safely and a tool that will be used to rescue citizens in dangerous environments."
DeVries and Deputy Chief Rusty Cooper said they understand concerns raised by the incidents in Missouri, which began Aug. 9 when a white police officer shot to death an unarmed 18-year-old black man.
The Ferguson police initially responded in full battle armor with a vehicle similar to the MRAP KPD has, but it was clearly outfitted for a military purpose, including a rooftop platform to fire heavy-caliber weaponry.
DeVries said the $750,000 vehicle, obtained virtually for free through the Department of Defense 1033 Program, has been "fully equipped" for law enforcement purposes.
"This is to get officers safely into high-risk situations and get civilians out of high-risk situations," DeVries said.
Mayor Janet Watson and a few Council members climbed into the MRAP prior to Tuesday's meeting.
Mayor-elect Richard Anderson noted drug traffickers have become more violent in recent years and often use powerful weapons against police officers.
Traffickers also use sophisticated surveillance systems that make life dangerous for officers attempting to serve search warrants.
DeVries said the idea behind obtaining the MRAP was for officer and public safety.
The armored vehicle had been completely refurbished prior to the KPD picking it up, including a new diesel engine.
No tax money was used in acquiring the vehicle. Drug seizure assets paid to have the vehicle shipped from Texas to Kingman and the work done to repurpose the MRAP has also come from drug forfeitures, said DeVries.
"I'm quite impressed," said Watson. "Officer safety is paramount."