“We dropped $200k on this armored truck and there hasn’t been a murder since,” said no police department, ever.

For a couple of reasons, I’m what you could call in interested observer of the militarization of our local police forces.  First, it scares the hell out of me see how many of the local departments that can’t consistently make solid DUI arrests have no problem getting their hands on better weapons than most countries around the globe.  Second, and more importantly, I’m interested in anything that affirms my belief that if the police spent less money on deadly toys and more money training themselves to deal with the mentally and developmentally disabled, we’d all be better off.

So, I do things like keep an eye on this list of small towns that the federal government has given armored ambush vehicles to.  Doing that and “interacting” with Nancy Grace on Twitter is practically a full time job.  Somebody has to do it, though.

Today, during a lull in court, I decided to take a look and see if any local Kane County municipalities had soothed this apparent police “need” for war machines. Not surprisingly, google took about .2334 seconds to find one.  A few years back, it looks like the City of Elgin bought this beautiful piece of reinforced steel.  

Screenshot from 2014-05-13 09:31:38It’s got everything a militarized police force could want.  Look at that fantastic mood lighting!  I’m not sure if it’s got an AM/FM radio, but it does have air conditioning!

Screenshot from 2014-05-13 09:33:52

I hope you are as happy for the Elgin PD as I am. I mean, it’s not that the Elgin PD wanted this. According to this Daily Herald article they needed it.  And, because it was paid for from drug forfeiture money, it didn’t “cost” anything:

The vehicle will be paid for by money in a drug asset forfeiture fund, costing taxpayers nothing — a position the police department has waited to be in.
“This has been a vehicle that we’ve had a need for for years,” said Elgin Police Chief Jeff Swoboda. “We recognize this is a large purchase. We were going to wait until we could afford to pay for this with money seized from drug dealers.”

Only the government could have $200k to spend on toys, spend that $200k and then claim that there was no “cost” to the taxpayers. Especially in the same year they faced “severe” budget cuts.  Thankfully that $200k couldn’t have been put to any other use anywhere in the city.

I get that we live in an age where the police have been trained to think that each and every one of us could be a terrorist (including you… yes, you).  I also get that some of these fancy toys may be more useful in some situations than their traditional, less fancy police vehicles. What I don’t understand, though is how willing the police and general public are to abandon all reason and spend money on police toys that that are never “necessary” and will likely never see a situation as intense as they are designed to handle.  If this isn’t gross overkill, what is?

I know that you can always look at this sort of purchase as a safety measure and, really, no price should be spared in the name of public safety. Or so the scare tactic goes…  There could possibly be some sort of terrorist action, and then won’t we all be happy that Elgin has this air-conditioned thing that can carry around a ton of cops in tactical gear?

Until then, this thing is essentially a $200k display piece that will probably turn more miles in Elgin parades than anywhere else.

Author: matthaiduk

Matt Haiduk is a criminal defense lawyer in Illinois. He loves his dog. And pizza.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *