The City of Wylie says its police department got the bargain of the century: about $650,000 in new equipment all for free.
But their new vehicle is turning heads.
For short, it’s called an MRAP, known in the military as a Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle, meant for carrying soldiers and protecting them in combat zones from missile attacks, bombs and improvised explosive devices.
“This vehicle can take us virtually anywhere,” said Sgt. Donna Valdepena, Wylie Police spokeswoman.
Initial public reaction has been mixed, but Valdepena points out the new vehicle fills a void the department can’t budget itself.
“We can’t afford to buy a SWAT vehicle for our officers,” she said. “It’s not that we’re turning into a military organization. We’re doing the best we can with free equipment.”
Valdepena said during previous SWAT-involved crises in the city, Wylie would have to call in neighboring agencies like Plano in order to help their officers safely approach using the right equipment.
According to city spokesman Craig Kelly, smaller armored SWAT vehicles can cost between $300,000 and $500,000.
Wylie was approved for a Department of Defense project through its military surplus program.
The city only bears responsibility for on-going maintenance, but tell us the military included spare tires in the grant, which will cut down on future costs significantly.
Valdepena said because the MRAP will not be used daily or even weekly, just for emergencies and community events, its wear and tear and potential cost to taxpayers will be minimal.
“It is a little bit larger, but it is going to do the job,” she said.
Wylie is also getting a Humvee vehicle this week through the same program.