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Mississippi sheriff: County 'blessed' to get armored vehicle

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COLUMBUS, Miss. (AP) — A north Mississippi sheriff says his department was “blessed” to get an armored vehicle through a program that transfers excess military equipment to local law enforcement agencies.

Monroe County Sheriff Kevin Crook told the Commercial Dispatch that the Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected carrier will be used for search-and-rescue efforts after floods and storms, and will provide cover for the SWAT teams in hostage or active-shooter situations.

“We’ve had tornadoes up here that have torn some towns apart and we have the ability to get in and out with this thing,” Crook said.

The department acquired the vehicle in June and has already used it to pull out a trailer that was underwater, he said. The vehicle was built for the Marine Corps and can operate in up to 6 feet (1.8 meters) of water.

The Defense Department still owns the vehicle that Monroe County is using. Private donations paid a $10,000 transfer fee for the county.

“We had plenty of support from the community and raised that money pretty easily,” Crook said. “We’re blessed to have it.”

Crook said the vehicle has no weapons. He said most feedback has been positive but he knows not everyone will approve of the department using a military-grade vehicle.

“It gets mixed reviews, especially in the current climate. ... If you’re against our officers being as safe as they can be, well then, OK,” Crook said.

“I think it’s just an intimidating look ... we live in a day where we have to keep up with the bad guys and normally the bad guys have us outgunned by a long shot,” he said. “This helps protect us. Two weekends ago, we had a shooting in Monroe County and the suspect used armor-piercing bullets and assault rifles. To pretend this stuff ain’t out there, and there’s no need for it, is burying heads in the sand.”