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Why Does Garfield Police Department Need Armor Plated Military Truck?

Garfield's military-grade Mine Resistant Ambush Prepared vehicle has drawn strong criticism from people concerned about the militarization of local police. Photo Credit: Arthur Augustyn
The large size of the MRAP is apparent in close proximity, towering over the average person (seen here with reporter Arthur Augustyn). The vehicle was renamed to "Emergency Service Unit" to detach it from its military past. Photo Credit: Arthur Augustyn
Garfield Police compared the MRAP's usage to other vans and trucks used by the department. Photo Credit: Arthur Augustyn

GARFIELD, N.J. — Mine Resistant Ambush Protected is the official name for Garfield's recently acquired military-grade vehicle. 

Its daunting size has drawn criticism with some residents asking: Why does a local police department need something like this?

"We know there are no mines in Garfield," Lieutenant Michael Marsh said. 

"That's what it was built for but we're repurposing it."

Despite its military history, Garfield intends to use the vehicle for emergencies, such as rescues in bad weather or active shooters.

The department has even rebranded the vehicle from MRAP to Emergency Rescue Vehicle to diminish its military past.

The department acquired the vehicle through the Law Enforcement Surplus program, a federal program that provides everything from paper clips to armored vehicles for local police departments.

Marsh said that the department could have purchased a vehicle with similar capabilities without resorting to repurposing military equipment, but that would have cost around $500,000 dollars.

"This was free," Marsh said. "It got a new paint job, some lights, lettering, we’re taking out what’s inside. It’ll cost less than to put a patrol car on the road."

Although the department didn't pay for the vehicle itself, the cost to ship it from California was around $6,000 dollars.

The inside of the vehicle has been stripped of all its military past. Currently, the interior of the truck is empty, but it's intended that two benches will be placed to transport people during emergencies. 

Garfield acquired the vehicle in November of last year with 125 miles on it, but it hasn't moved around much since.

"We haven’t used it for anything other than for reporters to come and see," Marsh said.

The police department plans to showcase the vehicle during city events so citizens become familiarized with the equipment.

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