GEORGETOWN, Texas (KXAN) — Operating costs of the Georgetown Police Department’s Mine Resistant Ambush Protected armored vehicle, or MRAP for short, led one city council member to request it be parked altogether.
Designed to withstand explosions from improvised explosive devices, MRAPs are now rolling into local law enforcement fleets. Georgetown’s addition has yet to be used and is already drawing both criticism and a high price tag.
“You know, Williamson County, I believe we have three of four of these things. Do we really need three of four of these vehicles in the county?” said Gerogetown District 7 City Council member Tommy Gonzalez.
The actual vehicle was free. According to official city documents, Georgetown Police Chief Wayne Nero said operation costs would run the city $2,500 in the 2014-2015 budget. That $2,500 may be needed before it’s ever trained on.
City documents show the vehicle broke down in traffic in Cedar Park in November on the way to get painted. According to city documents, an air brake chamber on one of the rear wheels malfunctioned and needs to be replaced. The vehicle hasn’t been repaired yet because mechanics have been searching for replacement part. Initial estimates put repair cost at $2,638. Now, estimates are closer to half the amount, about $1,200, but still too much for council member Gonzalez who is hoping to park it for good.
“We could look at the actual police department and consider things of need. Do we have a new police car that has to be purchased that money could be applied to and reduce debt?” asked council member Gonzalez.
Council member Gonzalez said he was the only member to vote against the MRAP initially. In addition to costs, he said he’s concerned with public perception of militarized vehicles in his city.
When it came time Tuesday for council members to decide on the vehicle’s fate, council members were split. The mayor’s deciding vote will keep the vehicle in Georgetown.
The debate over whether police departments really need military equipment like the M-RAP vehicle has spread across the country. In August, Davis, California, became the first city in the U.S. to reject the armored vehicle. The Davis Police Department would have gotten the $600,000 vehicle for free from the Defense Department.