Winchester PD: Armored Vehicles Will Assist Not Attack City, Residents


WINCHESTER, Va. - Images out of Ferguson, Missouri look more like a war-zone than a quiet suburban town. Officers look like soldiers and military-type vehicles patrol the streets. 

The shooting of Michael Brown, 18,  by a Ferguson Police Officer has brought up many questions, including the need for police to use such heavy equipment.

'We want to make the residents familiar with [our armored vehicle] and know that this is a Winchester Police Department vehicle,” said Lauren Cummings, a spokesperson for the department. “They don't need to be worried about it. It is a recovery vehicle, strictly for the use for going in and helping residents or an officer that may be down."

The events in Ferguson are just one reason why the Winchester Police Department issued a press release on their new Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected (M-RAP) vehicle.

"Obviously it has gotten some negative press right now, as far as with Ferguson, but we want the message to be that this is a rescue vehicle,” said Cummings. “It's here to help people, which is what we're here to do."

"During an extraordinary situation this vehicle can be brought in so we can pick up the injured, and get them out of what we call the 'hot zone,'" said Captain Mike Danielson, with the WPD’s Criminal Investigation Division. “We can get [the injured] back to the medics. And nice thing about this is that we can have the medics inside the vehicle with us as well."

The M-RAP vehicle can fit ten people comfortably and while they usually cost more than $700,000 the Winchester Police Department's was completely free of charge thanks to a U.S. government surplus program.

"It’s not an offensive vehicle. It's not an attack vehicle,” said Danielson. “We have it here as just another tool to help us do our job as safe as we can, [which is] to protect our officers, to protect the public, and to protect any suspects that we come into as well."

"This vehicle will not be used in the City of Winchester as a weapon. It is not an offensive, it is strictly a defensive. We will not be going into the community and using it in any other way other than strictly as a rescue vehicle,” said Cummings.

The Winchester Police Department has also recently acquired a new rapid deployment vehicle for their SWAT team, which cost the them about $60,000.

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