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Local police fight crime with 18-ton armored military vehicles

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With the withdrawal of its troops from Iraq, the US military had a problem: over 160 mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicles, or MRAPs, were laying unused. That problem's been resolved thanks to the national military surplus program, which has found a good home for the 18-ton trucks — your local law enforcement's parking lot. According to Stars and Stripes, 165 vehicles, each worth around $500,000, have been snapped up by police and sheriff's departments across the country.

"It's armored. It's heavy. It's intimidating. And it's free."

Originally used to protect the military against roadside bombs, the MRAPs were fitted with turrets and bulletproof glass. They require some work, such as removing guns and covering over military paint jobs. "It's armored. It's heavy. It's intimidating. And it's free," Albany Country Sheriff Craig Apple tells Stars and Stripes. Don't expect to see one of the massive vehicles patrolling your block, though. The trucks are extremely inefficient for everyday use, as they're too heavy for some roads and are "tippy" on uneven ground. There's also the small matter of fuel efficiency: MRAPs only get around five miles to the gallon.

Instead, they've so far been used for high-risk operations, such as executing a warrant where the suspect was thought to be heavily armed and harboring explosives. During the search, a second MRAP was used to protect officers and neighbors from a possible explosion. According to Stars and Stripes, the military says police have asked for an additional 731 MRAPs in total, but none are currently available.