Two thumbs up for Medford's mayor and council for investing in safety. Since the early '90s, Medford's armored cars were donations of vehicles being retired. These vehicles are now more than 30 years old. Two of these vehicles had ballistic ratings to stop only handguns and were not capable of stopping rounds from hunting and assault rifles. Officers wear body armor that has to be replaced every five years.

Two thumbs up for Medford's mayor and council for investing in safety. Since the early '90s, Medford's armored cars were donations of vehicles being retired. These vehicles are now more than 30 years old. Two of these vehicles had ballistic ratings to stop only handguns and were not capable of stopping rounds from hunting and assault rifles. Officers wear body armor that has to be replaced every five years.

Fortunately, MPD has not had its body armor tested by criminals in more than 20 years, yet the city still invested in this safety equipment. During a 20-year period, the department will spend more than $300,000 on protective vests. The city recognizes the top priority is to provide for the safety of its citizens, and to do so must equip and provide for the safety of its officers.

The forecasts for the next decade is increased violence. The city would be negligent and liable to knowingly expect and send its officers into harm's way without providing them the needed protection against the common weaponry that exists on today's streets. The new armored vehicle is an investment in safety and MPD's ability to willingly go into harm's way to save others. — Randy Schoen, Central Point

I applaud the Medford Police Department's wise purchase of their new armored vehicle. Recently an M-2 Army-issue machine gun was found in the possession of felons. This vehicle would allow recovery of that weapon in an armed confrontation. — William T. Hailey, Jr., Eagle Point

I am so glad Medford has the money to buy a $260,000 SWAT van. We need it for all the serious bank robbers every day and the hundreds of hostages taken every month. Not to mention the hundreds of terrorist attacks we have around here.

I'm sure we didn't need that money for anything important that could help the city. I'm sure Tim George will need a tank or maybe an attack helicopter to back up the SWAT van. When is enough enough? — Jim Kincaid, Talent

Last May, the Medford City Council made a radical choice that will contribute to foundational change of the nature of our town. It authorized the purchase by the Medford police of a behemoth paramilitary vehicle complete with rotating gun turret. Keep in mind, weapons, like money, are not morally neutral.

This further militarization of our community police follows a pattern being set across the nation. Can a surveillance drone be far behind? I doubt it. Advanced technology is driving down the size and price, and the manufacturers are looking for additional markets for their product.

This trend stems from the change in the West: a visceral orientation of "I am hungry" to "I am afraid." We continue to read to our youngsters picture books that portray the local cop as our friend. The drawings generally show men with an easy smile and manner. Today they are confronted with men easing out of cars having deeply tinted windows with shaved heads and dark glasses, and bodies to rival martial artists. Do they feel protected, or intimidated? Will this new SWAT vehicle be greeted with cheers or diving for cover? — Robert Doell, Medford

Thank you to the Mail Tribune for shining a light on the stupid and violent use of our tax dollars. Last Friday, on the front page, an armored vehicle right out of the pages of the Iraq War was purchased to use against citizens of Medford. A new army toy costing $260,000, a single tire costs $6,700.

If ever we should need such equipment, why not use some of the vehicles in storage at the armory?

I am not impressed at the direction the council and the Police Department are taking. Next they will use our tax dollars for drones. We need to put $260,000 into our children, their education and care. — M. Griffith, Phoenix

I will have been clean and sober from drugs and alcohol for 14 years as of this Jan. 1, so I have personal knowledge of the kind of crazy, violent people Medford police are having to deal with. What with the apparent influx into the Rogue Valley of heroin and methamphetamine (my former drug of choice), there's almost always gangs involved. They rule the streets by the violent reputations that follow them.

I say whatever police need to protect the public and themselves from this scourge, I am perfectly alright with them using my tax money however they see fit. Allow our brave public servants to be the buffer between this evil in our streets. Keep up the good work men and women of law enforcement. Thank you! — Rick Nelson, Medford

For all of those Scrooges arguing that the new SWAT truck for the Medford Police Department is a waste of money, I ask if you'd think the same if any member of the SWAT team were your kid or grandkid. Wouldn't you want their lives to be protected as much as possible when they go up against the bad guys?

It's my thinking that the Police Department knows best what kind of equipment it needs to keep its officers and the law-abiding public safe.

One more thing for you complainers: any time you think you could do as good a job as the police officers — firefighters, too — go for it. For me personally, I appreciate what they do and often wonder how they're able to do it day after day. — Jan Townsend, Medford

Congress should listen to state attorneys general and not play "Grand Bargain" with housing and our economic recovery. The National AGs' settlement with Bank of America, Wells Fargo, JP Morgan Chase, and others mandates mortgage write-down relief for homeowners as restitution for blatantly wrongful mortgage and foreclosure practices. Practices that allowed these banks to profit from the housing bubble and the foreclosure crash it caused while homeowners and taxpayers continue to shoulder the costs.

For example, these same banks continue to charge homeowners monthly mortgage payments based on the artificially inflated values of the housing bubble, not today's fair market value. This has driven 4 million families into foreclosure and left an additional 16 million underwater.

Homeowners and the housing market just began to see some relief under the settlement. But the expiration of the "Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007" could turn write-downs into IRS nightmares by forcing homeowners to count relief such as loan modifications as taxable income. This is often an amount close to a full year's wages. State attorneys general are urging Congress to act now to extend mortgage forgiveness tax relief. It's in all of our interest that Congress listens. — Nancie Koerber, Central Point

The article titled "Doggone good idea?" in the Dec. 12 MT included the following sentence, in part: "A dead fox that attacked a cat in the Applegate ..." This led my wife to wonder if we could potentially be exposed to a new threat in the Rogue Valley, zombie foxes. — Stan Loer, Grants Pass

In the years before the recent 2012 election, the Republican congressional leadership clearly stated that its primary goal was to prevent President Barack Obama from being re-elected. To that end, the leadership refused to vote for any legislation (including some that had been its own ideas) that might help the economy, for fear that it would also help the president win re-election. This intransigence helped prolong the recession and caused the USA to lose its AAA credit rating for the first time in our lifetimes, resulting in huge financial pain to millions of people and even more job losses.

One can only hope that Rep. Greg Walden, in his new leadership role, and the rest of the Republican leadership would consider whether it might be in their best interests to ignore their ill-conceived promise to Grover Norquist and instead to honor their oaths of office and work together to improve conditions for the American people.

Going over the "fiscal cliff" will not be remembered fondly by your constituents. It seems clear that in the current political climate, compromise is the only way anything can get done. — Morty Smith, Ashland

Bill Hartley's Tuesday, Dec. 11, letter, "Republican Party rebound?" only confirms the decline of the Republican Party's credibity among voters. I already alluded to this via my Sunday, Nov. 18, letter, "Not delighted." The Roseburg Beacon via has detailed articles exposing Oregon GOP Chairman Allen Alley and why he should resign and step down.

I myself in moral conscience cannot support either major party. — James Farmer, Ashland

Garfield Street between Peach and South Columbus has been closed for some weeks now with road closure signs in place and yet people just don't get what "Closed to Through Traffic" means. Either they can't read, they're ignorant or just don't care.

I have sat and laughed at a lot of these people because I just don't get what they don't understand about "Street Closed." Also, removing these signs, which are city property, is illegal and you can be fined.

Closed to through traffic does not mean for everyone else except you! — N. Freitas, Medford

I attended the Medford School District a couple weeks ago. It was generally a ho-hum meeting until, suddenly, toward the end of the meeting, Marlene Yesquen blasted Phil Long's end run around the School Board by implementing the outrageous 6.5 percent pay increases for himself and his staff, whose salaries averages close to $90,000 per year. Add another 50 percent in benefits and each of these people cost you and me $135,000 per year! Yesquen's motion to rein him in was quickly seconded by Paulie Brading and supported by Kim Wallen.

Bravo to them, except that after a few minutes of discussion, Board Chairman Jeff Thomas effectively killed the motion. These courageous ladies were on the right path and then dropped it! Why? Next we'll hear about how we "don't have enough money for education, or, we cut staff." It will be the same tired plea "for the children" while you and I get soaked.

Is anyone tired of this incessant money grab? It's a moral and ethical issue for those who pay the hard-earned taxes that support such waste. This is shameful. — John Underwood, Medford