Some of the military vehicles coming home from war are showing up in in eastern Iowa.
The Washington, Iowa police department’s new MRAP (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected) vehicle isn’t called a tank, but that’s what it looks like to a civilian like me. The Des Moines Register reports Washington City Council members had mixed feelings about the deal and the police chief says ”I hope it’s not used a lot.”
But Washington, less than an hour south of Iowa City, has just 10 full-time cops and there are only about 20,000 people in the whole county. As Register columnist Kyle Munson points out, “Washington isn’t Kandahar City circa 2011.”
Police departments across the country are gearing up as equipment returns home from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Law enforcement agencies in Mason City, Storm Lake, Buena Vista County, Jasper County, Scott County and Story County also have mine-resistant trucks and a long list of agencies have received military weapons and other items.
The equipment isn’t only being used in extreme events like shooting sprees and bomb threats. Beuna Vista County officers have used their smaller mine-resistant truck twice to make arrests. And military-style assault rifles are commonplace among Iowa cops now. After Ankeny, Iowa police used military tactics to pursue non-violent criminals in a private home earlier this year, officials there said they don’t even have rules for when it’s appropriate to use that equipment.