WICHITA, Kansas – For four months, Sedgwick County has had a mine resistant, ambush protected armored vehicle, or MRAP. The vehicle usually carries a hefty price tag, $750,000, but the county, like so many others around the country, received it from a military surplus program, free of charge.
But what does a free vehicle cost? It starts with training.
“We sent the deputies to the fire department’s large vehicle course,” said Lt. Dave Mattingly with the sheriff’s office, “we called the experts they drive those vehicles on a regular basis.”
In all, 10 deputies are trained on how to drive the vehicle, 2 also received training from the Army on basic procedures, and 3 or 4 will receive more specialized training from the National Tactical Officers Association in November because, so far, all the training has been on how deputies operate the vehicle.
“There are no weapon emplacements on this vehicle, it is a stripped down version of what the military uses in a theatre of war, it has an air conditioner and that’s about it,” joked Mattingly.
The sheriff’s office has not created a specific, written policy for just how and when the MRAP is used, but said when law enforcement safety is at risk, it will be put in action.
“If somebody’s life is in danger, if shots have been fired, and we need to move deputies close to the situation, that’s when we use the vehicle,” said Mattingly. “Our deputies have the right to be protected, if we’re sending them into harm’s way, this is a terrific tool to send them into harm’s way, safely…As safe as we can make it for them.”
The maintenance costs are also left for local authorities. About $15,000 went into making this vehicle ready for the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s office, that money went towards painting it and also installing equipment for communication. Officials don’t know how much money it will ultimately have to spend for maintenance, but say they will pay for those costs out of the asset forfeiture fund — money from things seized from criminal cases.
To find our more information about what other items that Kansas has received from the military, click here.