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Ongoing Debate over Armored Vehicles for Bergen County Law Enforcement

mrap vehicleIn an ongoing debate, Bergen County officials are drawing up sides with regard to the acquisition of armored vehicles, which have been made available to the Bergen County Sheriff’s Office through the Department of Defense.

Bergen County Sheriff Michael Saudino originally requested these resources, specifically known as mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicles, or MRAP’s, with the support of Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli. Sheriff Saudino has made clear that these vehicles will be utilized during emergency situations, such as natural disasters, and will not contain weaponry. Further, Molinelli said in a statement that the vehicles are being provided free of charge and thus, Bergen County should be obliged to accept them.

On the other side of this issue, New Jersey’s American Civil Liberties Union has argued that the acquisition of these vehicles may lead to increased incidences of violence, in addition to posing a threat to citizens’ civil liberties. Notably, Molinelli criticized the escalating violence between protesters and law enforcement officials in Ferguson, Missouri, which ensued after a police officer shot an unarmed 18-year-old.

Although Molinelli said he does not condone the military-like tactics employed by authorities in Ferguson, which included the use of armored vehicles, Bergen County officials have assured residents that the new MRAP’s are not intended for these purposes. Overall, the use of force by police has become a serious issue facing American society, garnering significant backlash in recent months. The way in which this question will ultimately be addressed in Bergen County remains to be seen.

For more information pertaing to this matter, access the following article: Prosecutor backs armored vehicles in Bergen, despite Ferguson backlash

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