Ross Police Department to Replace Police Cruisers with Mine-Resistant Armored Vehicles
by Sam Lushtak
The Ross Police Department announced last month new plans to replace all of its police cruisers with military surplus armored personnel carriers. These surplus vehicles were acquired as part of the over $389,000 in excess equipment obtained from the Department of Defense by various Marin County law enforcement agencies. These Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles, known as MRAPs, are designed to endure both landmines and improvised explosive devices (IEDs), as well as attacks from groups of armed militants. Over 12,000 MRAPs have been deployed in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Through the 1033 program, the Department of Defense has been transferring surplus MRAPs, as well as other excess military equipment, to law enforcement agencies throughout the country at little to no cost.
“It’s really a common-sense decision,” said Ross Chief of Police Eric Masterson. “These days, with so many new threats out there, we need to step up our capabilities as an agency. We’ve managed so far to limit increases in criminal activity in Ross through our Crime Mapping and Vacation House Check programs, but we knew we had more to stop the tide of violence that’s been plaguing our town. Plus, it’s always good to be prepared, in case the next unattended lunchbox left at Ross Common turns out to be packed with fertilizer.”
Chief Masterson concedes that, despite the generous savings provided by the 1033 program, the new MRAPs will have significantly higher fuel and maintenance costs than the Dodge Charger cruisers that they are replacing. The police department plans to finance these new costs with a bond measure in coming months, or by laying off officers who are approaching their planned retirements. Despite these sacrifices, however, ten-year Ross veteran Officer Danny Moy reminds us that “we need to think about the safety of our children, no matter the cost.”
The Ross Police Department has already implemented a pilot program to test the armored vehicles’ effectiveness on the streets of Ross. One MRAP has already been put into service, and the town has seen a dramatic decrease in parking violations and graffiti drawn on the fences of Ross School by 12-year-old students, as well as infractions by Branson students caught driving without seatbelts or driving their classmates before they have had their license for a full year.
“It’s really a great program,” said Officer Josh Schulman, who enthusiastically volunteered to be the first officer to use the armored vehicle. “I’ve been wearing a bulletproof vest on the job ever since I started working in Ross. Now that I’m driving an MRAP, I feel even safer knowing that I’m safe from both bullets and explosives. It’s a dangerous world out there.” The squirrel that Officer Schulman ran over this morning could not be reached for comment.