The League City Police Department is getting a tank-like vehicle from the military called an MRAP. MRAP stands for Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected. The vehicle doesn't have weapons, but it can have a gun mounted on its top. Letting police department have military vehicles is a bad idea. I wrote a letter to the city council and mayor listing some of the reasons it's a bad idea. Here is the letter:
"It is my understanding that the city is accepting a military MRAP vehicle for use by the League City Police Department. I want to express my feelings that this is a bad idea and explain why. It is my hope that the City will work to get rid of the vehicle in the same way as the Davis, CA has recently done.
1. America has a history of resistance to becoming a police state. In that effort, the government passed the Posse Comitatus Act, which in its spirit is to keep the military from policing American citizens. Ever more frequently though, the federal goverment is finding ways around this Act. One of which is to arm, train, and equip existing local police departments with military weapons, clothing, training, and vehicles. The federal government's 1033 program that gives surplus military equimpent to police agencies has been making police forces look more and more like military units for years. It is unfortunate that a conservative community like League City has fallen victim to the lure of "free toys" and joined the rush to have it's police force become more militarized.
2. The police claim they need such vehicles as the MRAP for their safety. But the truth is that the job of police officer doesn't even make the list of top 10 most dangerous jobs in America. Roofers and garbage collectors rank higher on the list of dangerous jobs than police officers. In fact, it is more safe now to work as a police officer than it has been in decades.
3. Vehicles like this, instead of actually being used for police work where officers respond to emergencies, are often used as crowd control at peaceful demonstrations. Having a military vehicle show up at a peaceful rally or demonstration can have quite a chilling effect on free speech, something the government should be protecting, not discouraging.
4. Giving the police military vehicles, clothing, weapons, training, etc can only lead to police officers forgetting that they work to serve the people. Police officers are often recruited after military service, where they learn to follow orders without question and see the people around them as enemies and a potential threat. I don't want police officers to act on orders without thinking. If they are given an order to confiscate guns house to house, or to fire upon peaceful protestors, I want police who can think for themselves and realize which orders are good and which are bad. I don't want my local police department seeing my family as a potential threat, but to see them as citizens to be protected. Giving our police military toys only reinforces the military training they may have received, and the military attitude they probably experienced in the boot-camp-like police training they received. Give them something like an MRAP, and eventually they are going to find an excuse to use it.
Like anyone else, I want the police to go home safely to their families when their shift is over. But I don't believe their having an MRAP is necessary to make that happen, and in fact carries too much negative baggage. I hope that League City will return the MRAP and look at other ways to scale back the militirization of its police force before we see police activities like were recently seen in Ferguson, MO."