The Dark Knight Cringes
July 29, 2015 12:04 AM   Subscribe

Activist Deray McKesson took this photo of an armored vehicle parked at the Waller County, TX jail. JPat Brown at Muckrock asked the Waller County Police Department for "[a]ny documentation (receipts, work orders, emails ) regarding customization of armored vehicles in the office's possession, specifically the application of the 'Batman/Dark Knight' logo. They were not amused. However, it's likely that the Chief Deputy is telling the truth, since companies like The Armored Group makes vehicles that are similar to the one spotted at the Waller County jail. This same company was mentioned in a October 2014 Mother Jones article about militarization of police forces across the country.
posted by snortasprocket (29 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
 
I live in a city of about 125k (in Orange County) and our "armored" truck looks like an ice cream truck painted black. The police shoot at someone maybe once every two years (the last one was a guy who charged them with a knife). Our violent crime rate is pretty average. I guess we're lucky? Maybe it's a Texas thing?
posted by Brocktoon at 12:09 AM on July 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


Gah. This is a trend I have not been happy with for a long time. Too much room for error.
posted by Samizdata at 12:23 AM on July 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


serve and protect?
posted by Reasonably Everything Happens at 1:45 AM on July 29, 2015


I think Batman is a great role model. Maybe his personal rule of "no guns, no killing" will catch on.
posted by Hicksu at 1:54 AM on July 29, 2015 [42 favorites]


If you really want to make waves, I imagine there's a company lawyer or three who might be a bit touchy about the movie distributor's copyrights and infringement thereof.....
posted by easily confused at 2:23 AM on July 29, 2015 [5 favorites]


I don't see any Batman insignia on any of the other armored vehicles depicted. Regardless of what the deputy says, my guess is that one of the guys who live to ride in it put that on.

Batman is not a good role model. He's a violent vigilante thug. That his escapades don't kill people is a fictional construct, and not like what happens when real cops emulate his behavior.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 2:39 AM on July 29, 2015 [7 favorites]


heh, even considering how the police are seen these days, a "DC sues police department" headline wouldn't be remotely in their best interest.
posted by lmfsilva at 2:55 AM on July 29, 2015


I live in a city of about 125k (in Orange County) and our "armored" truck looks like an ice cream truck painted black

Soft serve and protect?

(Or is that a very British term?)

Someone needs to tell the US police departments that this isn't how "western" police forces are supposed to present themselves. Hell, even the army normally knows better than *that* in their own country in peace time...
posted by Muppet Pastor at 3:01 AM on July 29, 2015 [7 favorites]


in their own country in peace time

Well, there you go ...
posted by oheso at 3:04 AM on July 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


So there's a non-story for you. Activist suspects local police department is customizing their vehicles, Batman style.

Activist was mistaken. No film at 11.00.

Best of the web though.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 3:05 AM on July 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


@kirth - the first picture on the linked page shows a white truck with a bat logo on the grill.

So, yeah, non-story as far as the police dept are concerned.
posted by Muppet Pastor at 3:21 AM on July 29, 2015


Kirth Gerson: "I don't see any Batman insignia on any of the other armored vehicles depicted."
It's on literally the first (top-left) vehicle in the gallery.

The thing is called a Ballistic Armored Tactical Transport - BATT.
posted by brokkr at 3:22 AM on July 29, 2015 [7 favorites]


serve and protect?

Serve you to the ground and protect you from running away.

ftfy
posted by chillmost at 3:27 AM on July 29, 2015


OK, I confess. I looked at that array of thumbnails and chose several to examine more closely, based on whether I thought a bat insignia would show up well. That first one wasn't one I chose.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:40 AM on July 29, 2015


My local PD doesn't have a BATT, we have an MRAP. Population about 300,000, Northern California. A much smaller town about 15 miles away, about 80,000 also has one.

Also, according to this article, Saddleback College has an MRAP. Apparently the only campus PD to get one. (wtf)

So no, not just a Texas thing.
posted by M Edward at 4:27 AM on July 29, 2015


What have we here, gentlemen? The police have themselves an RV. Southeast corner.

Not as funny as it used to be.
posted by jon1270 at 5:00 AM on July 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


For some reason, it reminds me of Ray's "Gothic Dance" outfit.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 5:42 AM on July 29, 2015 [4 favorites]


Well, I think it is fairly horrifying that the police are buying vehicles that indicate a cultural habit of thinking of themselves as a group of Batmen fighting the neverending onslaught of lawless Gotham villains.

The manufacturer might make them that way, but police forces who care about their communities SHOULD NOT BUY such vehicles. The activist thought that the story was “gung-ho cops decorate their tank to make it look like the bat mobile, indicating some deep-seated group pathology about their love of perpetuating violence against the citizens they are supposed to serve.”

It is MUCH, MUCH worse that the real story is “company finds it profitable to sell Batman cosplay units to police departments, because viewing themselves as dark avengers who solve all problems (including minor traffic offenses) with violence is endemic nationwide.”
posted by a fiendish thingy at 5:59 AM on July 29, 2015 [23 favorites]


What have we here, gentlemen? The police have themselves an RV. Southeast corner.

AND THE QUARTERBACK IS TOAST!
posted by theorique at 6:00 AM on July 29, 2015 [7 favorites]


Well, and, if you follow the comic book progression, this is just going to lead to criminals driving more armored and more outlandish vehicles, then the police vehicles will have to get bigger and more armored, and then they will put spikes on and...

I swear, it's like no one gets that WarHammer 40K is not a manual for policing anymore....
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:13 AM on July 29, 2015 [5 favorites]


In the grim darkness of the far future, there are only cops.
posted by Naberius at 6:28 AM on July 29, 2015 [5 favorites]


So there's a non-story for you. Activist suspects local police department is customizing their vehicles, Batman style. Activist was mistaken. No film at 11.00.

That's your takeaway? The WC Police may not be modifying the vehicles themselves, but they're still spending taxpayer money on what basically amounts to police-intimidation bling. A tiny rural county in Texas needs an armored "Batmobile" in the same way that I need a 500-foot yacht to do a little fishing.
posted by Strange Interlude at 6:33 AM on July 29, 2015 [7 favorites]


Soft serve and protect?

(Or is that a very British term?)


No, we say soft serve here on the east coast, as well, to distinguish it from "hand-dipped" or "hard" ice cream. As an aside, I always thought that "soft serve" and "frozen custard" referred to the same thing, but evidently they are different.
posted by mikemacman at 6:51 AM on July 29, 2015


That swoopy ass metal sun visor located over the windshield looks like it's part of the "Batman" pkg as well. No way it's shaped like that for aerodynamics or for manufacturing efficiency.
posted by HappyHippo at 7:14 AM on July 29, 2015 [3 favorites]


Well, I think it is fairly horrifying that the police are buying vehicles that indicate a cultural habit of thinking of themselves as a group of Batmen fighting the neverending onslaught of lawless Gotham villains.

Yes, Grant Morrison warned us against this.
posted by Sangermaine at 7:36 AM on July 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


Well, and, if you follow the comic book progression, this is just going to lead to criminals driving more armored and more outlandish vehicles, then the police vehicles will have to get bigger and more armored, and then they will put spikes on and...

Having known a couple of these guys, I can tell you that this is exactly what a certain (increasingly common?) type of cop fantasizes about. It's a very similar mentality to people who are obsessed with "home defense".
posted by IAmUnaware at 7:51 AM on July 29, 2015 [4 favorites]


Well, and, if you follow the comic book progression, this is just going to lead to criminals driving more armored and more outlandish vehicles, then the police vehicles will have to get bigger and more armored, and then they will put spikes on and...

Fortunately we know that his ends with Max helping Furiosa defeat Immortan Joe, because Max is, of course, a Good Cop.
posted by nonasuch at 8:40 AM on July 29, 2015


When he wrote Tank Police, Shirow Masamune thought he was depicting an offer the top parody of policing. Instead if was an accurate prediction of the future of America.
posted by sotonohito at 2:56 PM on July 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


My local PD doesn't have a BATT, we have an MRAP. Population about 300,000, Northern California. A much smaller town about 15 miles away, about 80,000 also has one.

Up the road here a spell we still only have a surplus Peacekeeper which is like a uparmored SUV. West Sac, just across the river has a MRAP. Local NPR has an interesting piece on the economics of it; to an extent its all just sitting around. Local arts rag was typically more blunt: makes a small town feel big time to have their own assault vehicle. County has purpose-built stuff which looks like it should come with a bitchin soundsystem so when you're riding with your bros you can put some Korn on or something. The college town down the road ditched theirs to an even more unlikely farmer town but not before using it for a clubhouse for a non-standoff.

Lodi though, that "lord stuck in again" place, they got themselves a BATT too. Totally worth it says police. Such a bargain! So useful! Its totally not a MRAP.

Reporter was looking to score easy points, chief was a dick about it. A little googling would have saved some error: "Chief, was the decision to buy the BATT at all influenced by the bitchin' batmobile symbol on the front?" was perhaps a better line. Some people will only bullshit even when given an opportunity for truth though, seems like a reach for lulz.

Honestly it seems like the bat symbol would be like the Utah Teapot of flow cutters, should be built in a setup test cut. "Here you go, run that through the grinder for a few minutes and you'll have a nice batarang.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 7:35 PM on July 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


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