You can’t argue with the price.
For $10, the Warren County Sheriff’s Office has been able to acquire four vehicles for its Emergency Response Team. They include:
u A mine-resistant ambush protected armored vehicle.
u Two military-style humvees.
u And a former Brinks armored car that has been retrofitted to accommodate the 13-person response team.
The Sheriff’s Office would argue it is prepared for any emergency.
We would agree, and include an invasion from a foreign country among the scenarios.
The sheriff argued all monies spent on the vehicles, now and in the future, will come out of drug forfeitures, and will not cost taxpayers one penny. The drug money can only be used toward drug enforcement.
Considering the terrorist-driven world in which we live, we suppose this is a prudent course of action, but we still wonder if the cost of upkeep, training and use of these vehicles is the best way to spend the drug forfeiture money.
These new vehicles do come with a future cost — gasoline, upkeep, maintenance and maybe training — even if the bills are paid from drug forfeitures.
We are proud our region has a very low incidence of violent crime and almost no random acts of violence. We can’t think of one previous incident in which a mine-resistant ambush-protected armored vehicle would have come in handy.
While it is always a possibility the need may arise, the State Police has an emergency response team in Albany that would be available.
There is also some symbolism to consider. Seeing these armored vehicles in our beautiful small towns gives us, and we suspect the local citizenry, an uneasy feeling that we are evolving into a military state.
These are scary-looking vehicles designed for scary situations. This is not Baghdad.
We wonder if the money seized from drug dealers should be going into drug treatment and prevention programs in which law enforcement is more accessible and approachable than when driving an armored vehicle. Perhaps it could
be used for more programs to steer youngsters away from drugs.
We also worry about the precedent this sets. It seems only a matter of time before Saratoga and Washington Counties will also be asking for the latest in equipment for their own emergency response teams.
It reminds us of the debate over equipment for local volunteer fire departments in recent years.
While it would be nice for every local fire company to have a $1 million ladder truck, or a boat with rescue capability, is it really necessary if there are already resources available?
Despite some of the horrific events that have happened around the country, violent crime continues to drop nationally and we certainly don’t see any increase locally.
It does not appear anyone stopped and asked a very simple question: Are these vehicles absolutely necessary for the safety and security of the people of Warren County?
Just because the price was right is not a good enough answer.
Local editorials represent the opinion of The Post-Star editorial board, which consists of Publisher Rick Emanuel, Editor Ken Tingley, Projects Editor Will Doolittle and citizen representative Vincent Palacino