Robert Shellmyer was relieved to see last week at his hometown’s 175th anniversary celebration that the local police department’s new prized possession was not driving alongside the tractors and floats in the parade.
That’s because a 45,000-pound, explosion-resistant vehicle from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan might spoil the mood.
Shellmyer, a 78-year-old city councilman for the small town of Washington, Iowa, was the sole local politician to vote against the department of 12 police officers getting the free MRAP — short for mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicle — from the Defense Department three months ago. Washington is one of hundreds of towns and cities to get a recycled MRAP from the Pentagon over the past year and a half.
“Here’s the thing,” Shellmyer says. “Washington, Iowa, has 8,000 people. We have an MRAP now. We have a SWAT team. We have [police] dogs, and we have a SWAT team transportation vehicle that’s not armored.”
The city councilman began to think: “Goodness, this is overkill.”