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Norwalk Police plan to protect themselves with armored vehicle

A Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicle (MRAP).
A Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicle (MRAP). (Photo by Flickr user Raymond Wambsgans.)

NORWALK, Conn. – If the Norwalk Police Department is successful in obtaining an armored transport vehicle it will be used to protect officers from gunfire, Norwalk Police Chief Thomas Kulhawik said.

Kulhawik said recently that his department is seeking an armored vehicle for its Emergency Services Unit through Section 1033 of the National Defense Authorization Act of 1997, which authorizes the Department of Defense to transfer excess military property to state and local law enforcement agencies. Kulhawik explained on Friday that the department has requested a Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicle for use in active shooter situation.

“We are currently on the list, but the program was temporarily suspended,” Kulhawik said. “We were waiting for a four-wheel model. We had been offered a larger six-wheel version but opted for the smaller vehicle. The vehicle is modified by the military to remove the gun turret, etc., for law enforcement use.”

Kulhawik said that such a vehicle would have been desirable in October 2012 when a man armed with a high-powered rifle was holed up on Hillside Street, threatening to shoot at police.

“It would be used by our Emergency Services Unit in an active shooter situation where an individual is armed to allow officers to approach safely and/or in rescue situations where officers or civilians have been shot or injured and are still in the line of fire and need to be rescued,” Kulhawik said.

The MRAP has a V-shaped hull, a raised chassis and armor plating, and “has proven to be the single most effective counter to Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs),” according to Marines.com. It has a blast-resistant underbody, all-terrain suspension, runflat combat tires and layers of thick, armored glass, the website says.

“A military surplus MRAP was used to rescue two officers who were shot and pinned down last month in Texas,” Kulhawik said. “The vehicle sustained numerous gunshots, but due to its design, the officers were able to safely access and rescue the injured officers.”

The 2012 shooter on Hillside did fire one shot towards police, Kulhawik said.

“Officers were temporarily pinned down and thankfully were able to escape to a safe area,” Kulhawik said. “The MRAP would have allowed us to immediately access the direct vicinity and remove the officers. It is a safeguard that we hope we would never have to use, however, if needed it will save lives.”

Comments

20 responses to “Norwalk Police plan to protect themselves with armored vehicle”

  1. Suzanne

    Is this through a grant? How much does the vehicle cost? Are there no other ancillary services in the Norwalk area that could assist without turning Norwalk into Iraq? It looks like we now need a unit from the National Guard to keep the peace.

  2. Maria Alarcon

    Welcome to the new world order….

  3. Oldtimer

    I wonder if Maria is also opposed to bullet resistant vests that police officers wear or two-way radios that are issued to officers. A lot of us sometimes yearn for our memories of the good old days, which, in many ways, were not all that good.

  4. MTP

    everyone wants to trash the Police these days, except…..when they need them.

  5. Seth

    An Armored Vehicle? How about tackling mental illness? The real plague on our society.

    Old Timer – You talk as if Norwalk were reminiscent of the movies that come out of Hollywood? Or the Hollywood shootout that took place back in early 90’s. Yeah, it happens all the time, right?

  6. One and Done

    That would be really cool with a swivel mount automatic 50 caliber rifle on it. Paint it black too.

  7. @Suzanne,
    As far as I know the vehicle is free. There’s a story in the print paper about a similar acquisition by the Wilton, Darien, Easton, Monroe and Trumbull police departments in 2007. They paid $3,000 for shipping.
    The federal government is transferring ownership of the vehicles to municipalities – they’re giving them away.
    From the link about the program:
    “Section 1033 of the National Defense Authorization Act of 1997 authorizes the Department of Defense to transfer excess military property to state and local law enforcement agencies. The eligible agencies in law enforcement activities are government agencies whose primary function is the enforcement of applicable federal, state and local laws, and whose compensated law enforcement officers have powers of arrest and apprehension. Preference is given to counter-drug and counter-terrorism activities.”

  8. Boy’s Toys vs Training

    First of all, like to thank Chief Kulhawik for responding with his oped and all those that organized and participated in the community discussion, that will hopefully continue.

    .

    Chief Kulhwak is correct when he states, “we need to be cautious and assure that the right equipment is being provided and then used responsibly.” And operated by personnel with proper and regular training, might be added.

    .

    Not sure of a scenario that an MRAP, (Mine Resistant Armored Personnel) vehicle would have effect on any situations in Norwalk, we dont have an IED issue and the situation the Chief references on hillside would not have been any help, as the officers were in the woods and were (pinned down) with assigned sniper positions. It should be noted, that another city’s armored vehicle was avaialble and rapidly deployed to Hillside and arrived as the suspect surrendered, thus, was not used.

    .

    The only scenarios where this type of vehicle will be of use in this community is in storms and high tides and of course parades.

    .

    As for barricaded suspects, Chief, its time to review that policy, as well as all SWAT deployments, post haste, before someone gets hurt. It is a mistake to use actual deployments, in lieu of training time.

    .

    There is a valid point being raised that police agencies are moving away from community policing, ( communicating ) and toward the “us vs them” bully tactical perceptions and therein lays the real challenges, we all face.
    .

    Its not us vs them, we are all in this together.
    The real enemy, as a previous poster mentioned, is mental illness.

    .

    Seth you make a very important point about mental health and the lack of focus, attention and resources on diagnosis and treatment of those suffering from mental illness and the ultimate costs we all bear in safety and incarcerations and recidivism rates.

    .

    But alas Seth, doesn’t look like we, as a nation, are there yet, to look in the mirror and address the root causes.

    .

    We still try and bandaid the gaping wound and hope it heals itself. We know it wont but we dont have the fortitude or political backbone to address mental health and begin a sustained public awareness campaign to erase the stigma that is attached to mental illness and treatment.

    .

    Kelly Thomas’s murder by untrained Us vs Them thugs with police powers that regularly abuse that power, should be a wake up call to all,
    as the countless police shootings of unarmed suspected violators bodies stack up across the country.

    ,

    Which by the way, no one is keeping statistics on, not even the FBI. Go figure?

    .

    Thank you for working to raise awareness Seth.
    Hopefully some leaders, public, corporate and private, with a spine, as well as media folks will recognize the tremendous need and begin the discussion.

  9. LWitherspoon

    The vehicle is free. What will it cost to maintain?

  10. Masie

    This is not the way to create a positive relationship with the community. I don’t live in a police state and I don’t want to. If there comes a time when there is a need for military equipment, we will call in the National Guard.

  11. Kathleen Montgomery

    @ Boy’s Toys: Thanks for the info and wise counsel.

  12. scopeonnorwalk

    I will call for the Chief’s resignation if they acquire an armored vehicle. I will start my petition of Norwalk residents against this tomorrow to make sure it doesn’t happen. I will hold federal, state, and local officials accountable for seeing that it doesn’t happen.

  13. Walter O’Reilly

    People are so over reactive. It’s not going to be driven down the road on patrol! The police department has a swat team and truck that many people probably have never seen, unless there’s a major incident in your neighborhood, then you’re happy to see them. Like Oldtimer said, should the police get rid of their bullet proof vests? When was the last time one was needed? Everyone likes to critique and judge when an armored vehicle would or wouldn’t be effective. I’d hate to see our police in a situation where one is needed but we judged wrong and they don’t have one. They are used to save lives all the time in this country, in Smalltown USA.

  14. BlueBlazes

    In getting a huge gas-guzzing, high maintenance, left over-truck from the military, Norwalk Police Chief Thomas Kulhawik appears to be responding to several currently very dangerous situations like: final agreement on newly proposed mosque; truck stuck under a bridge; two women fighting over a man; ugly traffic-producing mall with no shoppers; another politician drops out of a race; I-95 traffic jams gets very, very mean…

  15. EastNorwalkChick

    Well, it’ll be something different to look at in the Memorial Day Parade….that’s about how much use it will get.

  16. Concerned Elder

    One could dismiss this as “boys with toys” were it not for the haunting example set by Chief Kulhawik’s brother Edward, when in 2007 as Wilton PD chief he procured a similar vehicle referenced by Nancy. He justified the purchase as “a cheap way to respond to “low frequency, high risk” situations that can get a community in trouble if it is not prepared”, see http://www.thehour.com/news/wilton/area-police-buy-armored-army-carrier/thehour.com/news/wilton/area-police-buy-armored-army-carrier/article_9872d5c6-5c63-59ab-9363-73b80a9ebdf9.html.

    Trouble indeed came Wilton’s way when months later that military vehicle was deployed in a low-level drug raid with fatal consequences to Norwalker Gonzalo Guizan and a subsequent hit to Wilton’s pocketbook: http://www.ctpost.com/news/article/What-led-to-deadly-Easton-raid-3587812.php#page-1

    Probably Wilton will pay more: last week week the 2nd Circuit’s Court of Appeals permitted the raid’s surviving citizen Ronald Terebisi’s lawsuit to proceed, see http://www.ctpost.com/local/article/Court-cops-don-t-have-immunity-for-killer-raid-5711350.php and https://www.hightail.com/download/ZUcxK2V1d0E4NVh2WnRVag

  17. EveT

    The vehicle is “free” unless you count the tax dollars that were initially paid for it. Federal money is not free, it comes out of taxpayers’ pockets just like city and state money.

  18. EveT

    I hope Norwalk’s law enforcement decision makers will read the article in today’s NY Times about successful community policing in Camden, NJ:
    “’We’re not going to do this by militarizing streets,’ Chief Thomson said. Instead, he sent officers to knock on doors and ask residents their concerns. He lets community leaders monitor surveillance cameras from their home computers to help watch for developing crime.

    The police have held meet-the-officer fairs at parks and churches, attended baseball games and sent Mister Softee trucks into neighborhoods. Officers stand at school crossings and on corners where drugs and violence flourished. Chief Thomson’s theory is that in a city of 77,000, there are thousands more well-intentioned people than bad, and that the police must enlist them to take back the streets.”
    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/01/nyregion/camden-turns-around-with-new-police-force.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&version=LargeMediaHeadlineSum&module=photo-spot-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news&_r=0

  19. Ken Werner

    The preceding comments contain lots of extraneous and emotional arguments. The issue at hand is: Should Norwalk accept the no-cost (or low-cost) transfer of the MRAP to our police department?

    Primary argument in favor: There is a low but not zero probability that the use of the MRAP will prevent the death or injury of a police officer or citizen in a tactical situation.

    Primary argument against: We have seen the dangers of militarizing police forces. Even if we move forward energetically with enhanced community policing, the existence of the MRAP could send the wrong message to our citizens and ultimately do more harm than good.

    Both of these arguments are valid. We need to weigh them aganst each other.

  20. Scott

    Has everyone forgotten the recent events when police officers and fire personnel have rolled up on calls only to come under fire from a disturbed individual. Or the video of the bank robbers in California with the body armor shooting the defenseless police. There are situations for an armored vehicle where lives will be saved. Would you rather be saying we should have gotten it at an officer’s or neighbor’s funeral. How it is deployed needs to be scrutinized yes. Guns don’t kill people……..

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