Violence by Police departments has escalated drastically in the same time as criminal violence has gone down
I disagree. The violence was always there. What has changed more than anything is the visibility of the violence. Everyone packs a cell phone with a camera, everyone is connected to the net and social media, which in turn filters into the mainstream news. If a cop uses or abuses their power these days, it's covered six ways from Sunday, and twice even then. Just a few years ago, the only evidence of police malfeasance would be eye witness reports, and some beat-up individual.
Back in the 60's, 70's, 80's, and to a lesser degree the 90's, big city police regularly used violence with relative impunity, which would result in dismissal and criminal charges today. My source? Conversation with former policemen. I will agree the types of force any given police department might use has escalated. Where someone might have been clubbed silly back in the old days, in this day, they get tazered and riddled with bullets instead.
As for MRAPs, many departments have had armored vehicles for decades. Tanks with the main gun taken off--and frankly, MRAP armor doesn't compare to that. I support SWAT having access to these kinds of things. They come in handy in exigent circumstances. Like when that nutball was shooting at firemen. Or when someone gets held hostage. Like firearms, they are morally inert; tools that are only as good or evil as the user who bares them.