The Monroe police department is nearing the acquisition of a pair of military surplus armored Humvee vehicles for tactical incidents.
The city has been on a waiting list and is in the process of completing the final paperwork for two Mine Resistant Armor Protection (MRAP) vehicles — one for use by police and the other to be used for parts.
City officials have discussed this opportunity since February 2017. Council approved a resolution in March 2017 to obtain the vehicles through the Ohio Law Enforcement Support Office.
Police Chief Bob Buchanan said it will cost the city about $5,000 to transport the vehicles to Monroe and is expecting the vehicle would cost between $1,500 to $2,500 annually for maintenance. He said the vehicles are being stored near Harrisburg, Pa.
Some City Council members expressed concerns about the optics of a militarized police department but ultimately said the city should obtain the vehicles knowing that they can return them to the federal government.
Buchanan said there are armored vehicles from surrounding communities that could be used, but he questioned the length of time it would take for that response.
“The armored vehicle is a tool that we hope we never have to use, but one that we will be very glad we have it if needed. This has been the sentiment of most citizens we have talked to about this vehicle,” Buchanan wrote in a report to City Manager Bill Brock.
Buchanan said the department would prefer to have an armored vehicle that did not look like a military vehicle. However the cost of a new armored vehicle is about $250,000. He said acquiring the surplus military vehicle is an alternative solution that they wanted to present in an effort to provide this protection for officers.
Buchanan said the Monroe vehicle would be available for mutual aid to other communities as well as for natural disaster events such as a flood. The vehicle would not be used for patrol, he said.
Councilman Todd Hickman raised concern that the vehicle may never be used.
“It could be a big money pit,” he said. “I’m not sure if we really need it.”
Vice Mayor Dan Clark noted the city could return it if it became cost prohibitive.
“We’ll need to keep a close eye on it,” he said.
Councilman Keith Funk agreed, saying the issue could be re-evaluated after the city receives it.
“The cost is marginal. It’s worth a try,” he said.