The LAUSD Has the Keys to an MRAP Tank

Remember that military vehicle cops in Ferguson got flack for displaying following the shooting of Michael Brown? L.A.’s school district has one, too

Here are just a few facts about MRAPs, or Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles: They feature V-shaped hulls and blast-resistant underbodies. The most recent models were designed to protect troops from explosive devices in Iraq. The LAUSD has one.

No, the LAUSD is not at war (thank God). The school district’s police department acquired the military vehicle through a federal program that provided local law enforcement agencies with equipment not in use by our armed forces. The LAUSD was recently in possession of grenade launchers, too, but has decided to give those back. The MRAP? That they’re keeping, along with a reported 60 M16 riffles.

We’re awaiting answers to questions about the tank we sent to an aide to Los Angeles School Police Department Chief Steven Zipperman, but Zipperman told the Associated Press the vehicle would potentially be used during an armed threat (like a school shooting), adding, “Quite frankly, I hope we never have to deploy it.” Us too.

[Update: Officials say Zipperman is not available to answer our questions and have directed us to the LAUSD web site’s release about the weapons. There, it is noted the MRAP would not be used without approval from both the chief of school police and the superintendent.]

Comedian John Oliver shared his take on the militarization of the police on a recent episode of Last Week Tonight. He turns to MRAPs around the seven-minute mark. The whole thing would be really funny—if only it weren’t so unsettling and suddenly close to home.