MADISON, Wis. - The Madison Police Department has a new tool that will help improve the safety of its officers and citizens. It is the same tool that kept American servicemen and women safe in Iraq and Afghanistan: an MRAP.
The MRAP, or mine resistant ambush protection vehicle, was created in response to insurgent and terrorist use of improvised explosive devices in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The government built approximately 20,000 MRAPs. With the U.S. involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan ending, the government is making some MRAPs available to local law enforcement agencies.
The cost of each MRAP was originally around $650,000. Through what is called the 1033 program the federal government makes them available to law enforcement agencies for free. The only expense for Madison to get theirs was the cost of going to Indianapolis and driving it back.
"It is something our tax dollars have already paid for and certainly, if we can put it to good use here it is better than having it melted down as scrap," said Capt. Victor Wahl, of the Madison Police Department.
MPD had to repaint it, and add police radios and lights to make the MRAP operational.
They plan to use the MRAP as a tool to increase the safety of officers and citizens.
"It enables us really to have moving cover. So if we have to be in a position where our officers would otherwise be exposed to move up on a house, to move into an open area, to affect the rescue of a citizen, previously we were not able to do that safely and this enables us to do that," Wahl said.
In an active shooter situation where innocent people are trapped in harm's way, police could use the MRAP to get to them and then get them to safety.
It is a piece of equipment Madison police officials said they hope they never have to use, but realize it could save lives if they ever do need it.
"I think a good analogy is the soft body armor that officers wear everyday, and clearly most officers go their entire lives wearing that soft body armor every day and it never does anything but provide peace of mind to them that they have that extra level of protection. I certainly hope that this MRAP never proves itself in needing to protect an officer or a citizen, but it does provide that peace of mind and that capability for us that we didn't have before," Wahl said.
MPD has been awarded other pieces of equipment from the federal government through the 1033 program, including first aid kits, night vision gear and optics.
Two other law enforcement agencies in Wisconsin -- the St. Croix County and Juneau County sheriff's office -- have also received MRAPs through the 1033 program.
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