Reddin Belk, Pallad City Post

Notice any large armored vehicles cruising around recently? Over the three months, the amount of mobile strike vehicles on our streets have tripled—vehicles that would look more at home on a battlefield instead of downtown Pallad City. These armored transports belong to Vivid Defense, a private security contractor that works with the Pallad City police department.

Burdened with budget cuts, officer shortages, and outdated equipment, the PCPD continues to assure the public that they’re capable of combating rising crime rates, despite statistics to the contrary. Recent polls further reveal the public’s lack of faith in the PCPD, along with an increasing outcry that the city is currently more dangerous than it’s been in decades.

Standing behind his “Renew” initiative to curb crime and renovate less desirable sections of the Garland District, Mayor Hynden Neville has restructured the city’s budget to allocate for a privatized law enforcement unit to handle situations outside the PCPD’s capacity. What, exactly, that means has not yet been made clear. With Vivid Defense accepting the contract, the PCPD now has a division know as the Tactical Armored Unit, which has adopted a strikingly militaristic presence. Their mobile strike vehicles are equipped with heavy weaponry and the unit itself is comprised of individuals with cutting-edge body armor.

Vivid Defense has a long list of high-profile government contracts to their credit, most of which involve sending their private military force overseas. A stint in Karzostan last year, to help repel an insurgent uprising, left fourteen villages firebombed with seventy-four causalities and untold more civilians wounded.

Mayor Neville’s decision to employ the services of Vivid Defense has raised concerns, with some questioning if this is only the start of private contractors working in place of standard law enforcement. The public seems divided on the issue, with poll results showing nearly 40% in support of a private police force, which some believe may be quicker and more able to deal with the demands of a city overrun with crime. However, close to 50% oppose the formation of a privatized law enforcement, some citing that it would be akin to hiring mercenaries to patrol the streets, and that these “officers-in-name-only” may not be held up to the same accountable for their actions on the job, yet retain all of the authority that PCPD officers currently possess. Around 10% of voters remain undecided.

Thus far, the Tactical Armored Unit has seen little action, save for a few instances of drug busts and illegal weapon transportation—but each instance of their involvement has resulted in excessive property damage and serious injuries to both suspects and citizens unfortunate enough to get in the crossfire. With taxpayers footing the bill for this new unit, some Palladians have already been voicing their concerns on the Net, asking why the money to employ Vivid Defense wasn’t simply funneled into PCPD funding to reduce budget cuts. Others fear that the next step in Mayor Neville’s plan may be a force of strictly privatized police officers. As of now, it appears the Tactical Armored Unit is here to stay and citizens have little choice, other than sharing the streets with an ever-increasing presence of heavy ordinance.

Note: We contacted Mayor Neville for a statement regarding citizens’ concerns about the Vivid Defense contract, but he declined to comment.

Danger Zone One. Story by Midnight. Art by Salaiix.