Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

December 17, 2013

Military surplus: Heavy-duty help for McDowell

Bluefield Daily Telegraph

— — When it comes to fighting crime and the war on drugs, law-enforcement officers across our region need all of the tools, resources, funding and manpower that is available. And having a Mine Resistant Ambush Protection armored personnel carrier doesn’t hurt either.

The 51,000-pound vehicle was heading to a scrap yard before it was diverted to southern West Virginia. It was recently presented to the McDowell County Sheriff’s Department through the federal Law Enforcement Support Office, according to Sgt. James Muncy of the McDowell County Sheriff’s Department.

Because America’s military is downsizing, large amounts of surplus equipment is often available.

 “It’s military equipment that would otherwise be scrapped,” Muncy said last week. “They give it away rather than pay storage fees. At any time, they could come back and get it.”

The personnel carrier is armored, and it’s also equipped with bullet-resistant tires and bullet-resistant windows. It has six-wheel drive and a maximum speed of 65 mph. These capabilities allow the carrier, which can carry 11 people, to ford waterways, reach isolated households, and approach barricaded suspects. It could also serve as an armored ambulance for injured police and other people needing transport from dangerous locations.

The carrier, built in 2008, had only 7,000 miles on its odometer when it arrived in McDowell County. B.J. Trucking transported the vehicle for the sheriff’s department. “We got it free because of that,” Muncy said.

The sheriff’s department has also obtained four Humvees — one of them armored — and other equipment through the Mine Resistant Ambush Protection program. And a communications truck provided by MRAP is currently being converted into an emergency response vehicle.

Given the difficult terrain, the lack of a modern four-lane highway and the overall challenging geography of McDowell County, this equipment will certainly be put to good use. When major snowstorms occur, it is often difficult for law enforcement officials and emergency medical personnel to reach remote and mountainous parts of the county. And back during the devastating floods of 2001 and 2002, entire communities were isolated by high water and downed trees for several days.

We would much rather see this surplus military equipment being utilized by local law enforcement officials rather than being stored or even trashed at scrap yards across the country. The vehicles will most certainly help and will be put to good use by the McDowell Sheriff’s Department. Sheriff Martin West, and his deputies and staff, are to be congratulated on securing the armored personnel carrier, Humvees and other related equipment.