QUEENSBURY -- The Warren County Sheriff’s new armored military vehicle was discussed Wednesday at the county Board of Supervisor’s meeting, with one supervisor questioning the need for the vehicle and the “message” it sends to the public.
The comments pertained to a surplus U.S. military “mine resistant ambush protected” armored personnel carrier that the Sheriff’s Office received for free earlier this month, for use by the agency’s emergency response team.
Glens Falls 4th Ward Supervisor Bill Loeb said he had concerns that the vehicle marked a “militarization” of police and SWAT-type teams that could affect “quality of life” for area residents.
“I’m all for having a safe environment, but I think this has a negative impression,” Loeb said after the meeting.
Loeb said he had heard questions from constituents, including a retired U.S. Army colonel, who questioned the need of local police for a military vehicle.
Loeb’s questions were posed to county Undersheriff Shawn Lamouree, who was at the meeting to discuss other Sheriff’s Office issues but addressed Loeb’s questions and explained how the vehicle will be used.
Lamouree said Warren County Sheriff Bud York decided four years ago the Sheriff’s Office should have its own emergency response team to be prepared for whatever situations occur. While the State Police has a similar team, it is based in the Albany area.
“We didn’t want to wait for the State Police to come from Albany or wherever else they might be,” he said.
The MRAP vehicle is to be used only by the emergency response team for training and emergencies, and will be paid for through funds seized from drug dealers, Lamouree explained.
Warrensburg Supervisor Kevin Geraghty, chairman of the county Board of Supervisors, said he understands why questions have been asked about the vehicle but believes it can be of use.
But he said it will only be used in case of emergencies, won’t be funded by county tax dollars and will be a regional asset for neighboring counties since local police often help each other during major cases.
The meeting was the first time the board publicly discussed the vehicle since its acquisition was made public earlier this month. The Sheriff’s Committee did not take action on the matter.
The military is getting rid of hundreds of MRAPs by giving them to police agencies around the country, with those that aren’t taken being destroyed for scrap.