Darlington County Council denies funding for military vehicle

The Darlington County Sheriff's Office will have to find another way to pay for the maintenance of a military-style vehicle it recently received.

Darlington County Council voted against adding the "M-RAP" or "Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicle" to the county's fleet.

The vehicle needed to be added to the fleet in order to get routine maintenance work paid for by the county.

Darlington County Sheriff Wayne Byrd says his office has had the vehicle for about two months. It was given to them through a Department of Defense program.

Now that council has denied paying for the maintenance, Sheriff Byrd says the department will have to decide what to do with the vehicle.

"The real question now is, if council is that set that they don't want it, then do we return it or do we see if another agency nearby wants it," questioned Byrd. "It's military equipment, so it can't be disposed of by us. It has to either go to another agency or it has to go back to the military."

The "M-RAP" topic turned into a heated discussion during Tuesday night's council meeting.

Two community members spoke about the vehicle during public discussion.

One encouraged the council to add this vehicle to the county's fleet, because it will benefit law enforcement.

But another community member said it shouldn't be added because it would scare and intimidate the public, when law enforcement should be there to serve and protect.

County Council member Wilhelmina Johnson said if the county didn't add the "M-RAP" to the county's fleet, she would be concerned because the sheriff's department needs it to fight local crime.

Mozella Nicholson, another county council member, argued the vehicle wouldn't do much for the community.

Sheriff Byrd says his department needs to discuss what to do with the military vehicle before making any decisions.