” The Walton County Sheriff’s Department, a department formerly known for community-oriented policing, has joined the ever growing list of departments across the country that have chosen to abandon common sense and deploy an IED resistant armored vehicle.
Walton County is a part of Florida that is so crime free you can leave your doors unlocked. When Hollywood location scouts were looking for a community so perfect that it appeared to be fake, they came to Walton County. The Truman Show, staring Jim Carey, was filmed on location in a small Walton County community. The twins in the movie, were both Walton County lawmen on set to direct traffic. They were so personable and friendly, they wound up in the movie. Yes, they are really named Ron and Don.
It’s hard to imagine that community being policed by the 30,000lbs International MaxxPro MRAP. The weapon, just back from the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan, was recently acquired by the department. Now that it is painted black and labeled as a SWAT vehicle it is ready to be used not against Iraqi insurgents in Fallujah, but against Americans on Main Street.
Sheriff Michael Adkinson, Jr. made a statement on the department’s Facebook Page.The American Civil Liberties Union sees this as a problem, and has launched a nationwide investigation into the militarization of local law enforcement. The ACLU believes the mentality created by the presence of weapons of war causes an escalation in violence.
“It is important to realize that ANY rifle round will penetrate an officers body armor. This includes the common .22cal round. In the past 6 years the WCSO has come under fire from HUNDREDS of rounds during calls. We routinely take assault weapons of persons arrested. An example of this was an incident in which a man handcuffed an AK-47 assault rifle and confronted deputies. During another violent encounter over 100 rounds were exchanged during a shootout inside DeFuniak Springs. During the same time frame we have dealt with 9 barricaded subjects the majority of which had rifles at their disposal. The armored vehicle allows us to get close to the suspect without unnecessary danger. Again a rifle round can penetrate a vehicle and body armor. Certainly a $2,500 surplus vehicle is good insurance. We handle almost double the number of calls for service from a decade ago and unfortunately not all of those can be handled with customer service. This is not the federal government intruding on your civil liberties Would you really want them sent into harm’s way without the best protection available, simply because the military originally purchased this vehicle? The men and women who serve as deputy sheriff’s in this county are your friends and neighbors. This is your Sheriff trying to protect your deputies.”