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Militarized Vehicles in Muskegon County to be Returned or Sold

By Michelle Hazekamp

October 14, 2021

Muskegon County Commissioners voted 5-4 Tuesday, October 13, 2021 to have Muskegon County Sheriff, Michael Poulin, return or sell armored vehicles acquired this year from the DOD.

The discovery of the Muskegon County Sheriff's Department owning two armored vehicles, a HumVee and an MRAP (Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle) came as a surprise to the Muskegon County Board of Commissioners three weeks ago as Sheriff Poulin was forced to acknowledge their possession when asking the county Commissioners for funds to store the departments equipment. One would assume Sheriff Poulin was articulating normal police equipment that needs to be stored such as the boats used by the Sheriff's Dept. on the surrounding lakes. However, the $3 million dollar request sparked the interest of the inventory needed to be stored.

After multiple attempts of invocation by Commissioner Lahring, Sheriff Poulin finally admitted that he had two armored vehicles in his possession, given to him for free by the Department of Defense. This was the reason for the $3 million dollar price tag on a storage facility due to the need for "extra space." What's worse is the fact that the Sheriff went around the Commissioners through Corporate Counsel to make sure he did not have to get approval from the county commissioners to accept these so called gifts. However, he did need their approval for funds to store them. The Commissioners were not pleased by this news and some were infuriated.

As the DOD dumps outdated military equipment onto local law enforcement agencies, we end up with equipment that sits and rots due to lack of knowledge or experience in maintainance, while a heavy expense is incurred by tax paying citizens for storage. And, if they are used at all, the fuel consumption is enormous at 5 gallons per mile, which in turn falls again on tax payers.

After three weeks of questions, discussions and debate, the Muskegon County Commissioners voted 5-4 to have Sheriff Poulin either return the two armored vehicles by appropriate means, or sell them. Those who voted in favor of ridding the county of this financial burden were Commissioners Malinda Pego, Kim Cyr, Susie Hughes, Zach Larhing and Doug Brown. Those who opposed were Commissioners Bob Scolnik, Marcia Hovey-Wright, Charles Nash and Rillastine Wilkins.

Are Other Counties Receiving Militarized Equipment?

Sheriff Departments through out the nation have been receiving used military equipment since 1997 by way of the 1033 Program initiated by the DOD to dispose of outdated equipment onto state and local authorities and bolster police forces' ability to fight the war on drugs. The equipment is free, however, police departments are required to pay shipping. The program was put into the spotlight in 2014 due to a militarized police response to BLM protests in Ferguson, MO. Since Ferguson, local law enforcement agencies have received more than $850 million worth of equipment. As of 2020, more than 8,000 local law enforcement agencies have received HumVee's, MRAP's, assault rifles, bayonets, combat fatigue, etc.

Costs Associated with Militarized Vehicles

  • EachHumVee costs between $160,000 and 220,00 to make,

  • An MRAP is $1 million.

  • The average cost to maintain a MRAP is $60,000 per year, but that is what the government pays contractors overseas.

  • Absolutely no training is included with these vehicles

As the DOD dumps outdated military equipment onto local law enforcement agencies, we end up with equipment that sits and rots due to lack of knowledge or experience with maintenance, while a heavy expense is incurred by tax paying citizens for storage. Add to that the enormous fuel consumption of 5 miles per gallon if used, which again falls burden to tax payers.

Conflicting Messages

In a time when many have fallen victim to a false narrative that demonizes our police officers, and trust between them and communities is being sought after, the deployment of military equipment sends a very conflicting message. When citizens see officers, dressing in combat fatigue and parading vehicles, they no longer see police officers, they see soldiers. And with our 2nd Amendment rights on the line with our current leaders, statements such as the one made by Shawn Lamouree, who runs the Warren County, NY Emergency Response Team in regards to their military vehicles, "We don't expect to see insurgents or roadside bombs, our only concern is people with guns," creates more division and fear between police officers and citizens . The 1033 Program has changed how police interact with communities around the country and why members of Congress in both party's have repeatedly warned that the gear is "excessive" and blurs the lines between military and police tactics, while calling for more regulation.

We have been through a year and a half of fear mongering propaganda while our liberties and freedoms have been trampled on. Today we are witnessing tyranny worldwide, and as we watch what is taking place in West Australia and Saskatchewan, Canada, allowing our local law enforcement agencies to have this type of equipment in their possession only drives suspicion and speculation of a preparation for martial law, driving more fear, dis-trust, division and creating chaos.

Thanks to Muskegon County Commissioners, the citizens of Muskegon County will not be intimidated by a militarized Sheriff's Department, nor will we bear the burden of the expenses to keep and maintain equipment that has no purpose in a community setting.



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