"We currently are part of a seven county tactical team located in south east Idaho. ... We have had multiple incidents in just the past 18 months where this vehicle could have been utilized. The Wheeled carrier would work best due to the square miles where this vehicle is going to be utilized [sic]."
Rexburg Police Department
"Located in eastern Idaho, Rexburg is a rapidly growing city and home to a four year university with a combined total population of approximately 30,000. This area will be designated with the HIDTA status in the near future. There are currently no tactical armored vehicles utilized / deployed in this immediate surrounding areas [sic]."
Washington County Sheriff's Office
"Currently Washington County has no armored vehicles in our inventory. We have a high terror risk dam located in our county (Brownlee Dam). We would also use it to respond our deputies and city officers on high risk drug and search warrants [sic]."
Canyon County Sheriff's Office
[Didn't give a reason for request.]
Boise Police Department allocations under the 1033 Program:
40 storage chests
30 gas mask filters, currently stored in reserve
15 chemical suits, currently stored in reserve
12 AR-15 assault rifles, converted to semi-automatic, used for training only
5 flak jackets, currently stored in reserve
5 pairs binoculars, not assigned for use
2 pair night vision goggles, outdated technology, not assigned for use
1 protective bomb suit, outdated but stored in reserve
1 telescope, 1950s-era, not assigned for use
Tabielle Holsinger was watching the news on television the morning of Nov. 7, 2013. She said it was part of her morning routine--something she did just before taking a shower. Her fiance, Joshua Finch, had left the house to drop off their two children at YMCA daycare programs. That's when she heard the sirens.
"I was watching Democracy Now in my house, and Josh took the kids to school. He did that every day. It was approximately 9:20 [a.m.]. All of a sudden, I'm hearing honks. A tank was coming down the street with fire engines and police cars. A huge parade of about 10 vehicles. It just drives up here, right in front," said Holsinger, pointing to the gravel driveway facing her kitchen.
The "tank"--actually a mine-resistant ambush protected vehicle (MRAP)--parked directly in front of Holsinger's kitchen window, cracking a concrete slab that was part of a walkway leading to her front door. Boise Police officers entered her home and a tool shed on her property. They were there to serve a high-risk arrest warrant for Finch, who was under suspicion of kidnapping--the claims turned out to be unfounded--but also after receiving reports that he had been building bombs.
In an unfinished section of the house's basement, they found about 150 pounds of explosives that Finch had built in the tool shed and hidden from his family. But Finch wasn't home at the time of the arrest, and when the MRAP rolled into her driveway, Holsinger thought the hulking vehicle, cruisers and fire trucks were for her.
"I felt like they were coming after me. They had to make a big scene to me. I was under arrest and they were going to shoot me with the MRAP," she said, though BPD's MRAP is not armed.
Photos of the incident taken by BPD and posted online show the MRAP stationed between the street and Finch's home. Another photo shows the vehicle positioned in an alley between the shed where Finch had been preparing explosives and a neighbor's nearby house. The MRAP had startled Holsinger, but the photos of the scene show that the vehicle was acting as a blast barrier between Finch's home and adjacent property--a use that is consistent with deployment guidelines set by the police department. Specifically, policy dictates the MRAP can only be used in a defensive way and in response to an incident involving firearms or explosives. It is not to be deployed for crowd control, but it has been used in neighborhoods. BPD's stated policy is that the vehicle's purpose is to defend the "Three P's"--people, property and police--and never to harm them.
But Idaho is a patchwork of police agencies with varying quantities of military materiel, repurposed under a Department of Defense program known as 1033, and perhaps more significant are the differing philosophies and protocols regarding its use. It is part of a broader conversation about the balance between protecting police officers and the communities they serve.