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Springfield Deploys MRAP for First Time

Updated: Thursday, July 24 2014, 03:23 PM CDT

An armed standoff in a mobile home park on the Springfield and Riverton border ended without injury Tuesday night in part because of a new, armored vehicle authorities say.

The man law enforcement had holed up in his home is in custody. Charges are pending for the suspect, though as of Wednesday afternoon, he was still in the hospital being observed for mental conditions

Sangamon County Undersheriff Jack Campbell said the department's new Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle (MRAP) helped to end the standoff. Officers used the vehicle to approach the home, he said, in order to throw a phone to the suspect to open the lines of communication.

But the presence of the MRAP did more than that.

"But again with the size of the MRAP. You know it's got a diesel engine; it's making a lot of noise out there. We had the front of his trailer flooded with lights. I think it presented this intimidating barrier for him, so he walked out and gave himself up," Campbell said.

That's part of the reason why Campbell says the sheriff's office's has this new MRAP, which it got free of charge through the Law Enforcement Support Office 1033 program - a Department of Defense surplus property program. It can stop explosive devices, and can help end standoffs.

Besides the intimidation factor, Campbell says the protection the vehicle gives is invaluable.

"I don't want to put the lives of our deputies in danger by having simply having that protection the MRAP provides," he said. "I mean, it stops a 50 caliber round."

The sheriff's department is not the only department in our area with armored vehicles. Springfield, Decatur and Champaign all have smaller types of armored personnel carriers. And the LESO 1033 program has provided 21 MRAPs or similar armored vehicles to law enforcement agencies around Illinois.

The American Civil Liberties Union cited law enforcements easy access to military gear as a source of increased militarization.

"You know, militarization of local law enforcement is something politicians need to worry about, not at our level," Campbell said. "We're worried about protection, safety and security of the people in the county."

The sheriff's office hasn't had any complaints about the MRAP, Campbell said, and Sangamon County residents seem to be open to it.

"I think that's a great tool to have, and I think from their use, it pointed out that it worked," said Patty Maynor of Auburn.

"Better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it," said Brian Crawford of Springfield.

Not everyone's convinced, though.

"Maybe if we were in a more combative area like Detroit or something like that, but it's kind of excessive for this area," said Jacqueline Musgrove of Auburn.

Campbell said this is far from the first thing the sheriff's office has gotten over the past decade from the LESO 1033. Among the equipment, the department has received: boots, helmets, generators and AR-15's.

Springfield Deploys MRAP for First Time

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