Why Your Department
Cops don’t need tanks.
They just want to intimidate the community.
There are many people who disagree with the “militarization of police” and rally against law enforcement’s ability to obtain armored vehicles through the federal 1033 program.
The public generally thinks of an armored vehicle being used in situations such as high risk warrants or barricaded suspects. A perfect recent example happened in June 2022 when St. Cloud SWAT offered assistance at a situation in St. Michael, MN. Their two armored vehicles took a combined nine confirmed hits from a suspect’s rifle.
The officers were protected because of their armored vehicle.
But Commander Martin Sayre (St. Cloud Police Department, MN) is quick to point out there are many other uses for the armored vehicles that departments acquire. Sayre offered a few examples of various other uses from his own department:
June 2017, Improvised Explosive Device Scene Protection: While the SWAT team was not needed, and the Minneapolis Bomb Squad was called to remove the device in question, St. Cloud SWAT’s armored vehicles were used for precautionary protective measures.
June 2020, St. Cloud Civil Unrest/Riots: St. Cloud SWAT used their armored vehicles for several reasons, including:
Fire Department Escort: allowed firefighters to put out fires with a safe contingent in the event of hostile actions towards them.
Tactical Medical Response: Protected ambulance civilian tactical medics at command post and throughout the city. Civilian ambulance companies would only allow tactical medics in a hot-zone with an armored vehicle escort.
Armored vehicles from the military have often served communities (through local law enforcement) as a literal rescue vehicle. These armored vehicles can go through weather and terrain that other vehicles can’t, which means they are able to get to people that other vehicles can’t. These vehicles can even ford water, which makes them extremely helpful in areas of flooding for high water rescues. Many departments have used them in severe weather emergencies or natural disasters:
For those against the usage of military vehicles by law enforcement, the narrative often clings to what the vehicle could do to others in a high risk situation, or the “intimidation” a SWAT vehicle represents. But the purpose behind law enforcement agencies obtaining these armored vehicles has always been to protect the people inside the vehicle, as well as get to people who need help/protection.