MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - There are new questions arising about a powerful tool in the Memphis Police Department's arsenal.
MPD has begun using a Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle, also known as MRAP.
It's a vehicle originally designed for the battlefield, but is now under the control of police officers. Some wonder if it is making police too much like the military.
Military experts say the MRAP could provide major safety during a massive attack. The vehicle is now part of MPD's arsenal to fight crime.
Doug Cummins sells surplus military vehicles with the Memphis Equipment Company. That company was founded after WW2, and he knows MRAP's power.
"They were primarily built in the late 2000s, designed to withstand an IED, the explosive devices that were buried designed to harm military personnel," Cummins said.
But he admits it may be just too much force to tackle local crime.
The truck appeared during the Graceland protest in 2016.
MPA president Mike Williams said although police may not encounter mines, they must be prepared to battle heavy gunfire and possible terrorist attacks.
"Those instruments are being used to help citizens live happy and productive lives," Williams said. "We have individuals now that are out there running with AK47s, SKs, and officers need to be protected in certain situations from those type of weapons."
In hostage situations, he said the vehicle could save civilians' lives.
"If you are productive, law abiding citizens, I guarantee there is nothing to worry about," Williams said. "But if you are a criminal then yes, it should be horrifying to you. Yes, it should be something that when you see it coming, you should want to lay on the ground, prone out, and give yourself up."
Cummins explained that MPD received the expensive military equipment for free because they are a local government agency and they have priority with former military equipment.