Council Turns Back Tide of Police Militarization

Mason Harry gets ready to address Council during public comment
Mason Harry gets ready to address the council during public comment

On a night where dozens of citizens came forward to oppose the city’s acquisition by the police of the military MRAP vehicle, many of whom were speaking for the first time before council and gave impassioned speeches in opposition to the vehicle, it was the city council itself that was left to wrestle with how to approach the situation in a manner that reflected the values of the community but respected the dangerous work that the police have to do.

Ultimately, the council had to make the call. The council had its own passionate debate over how to proceed before narrowly, on a 3-1 vote with Brett Lee dissenting and Rochelle Swanson ultimately abstaining, adopting a motion made by Mayor Pro Tem Robb Davis and seconded by Mayor Dan Wolk.

Several dozen people came to the chambers – all but three expressed some form of opposition to the vehicle. (The Vanguard will have a follow up story that captures the public comment portion of the discussion).

A slide presented by Chief Black depicting weapons found in this community
A slide presented by Chief Black depicting weapons found in this community

Police Chief Landy Black said that the acquisition was justified and “not spurious on the department’s part. We have a genuine job-specific need for the types of equipment that most people wish that we wouldn’t have in our community because of the nature of the job that we have.”

He said there “is a very obvious tactical need for this vehicle.” We employ officers with a joint SWAT team with West Sacramento, something he called “an unfortunate but necessary commodity of our police department to deal with very volatile, risky, dangerous circumstances.”

In the last five years, the city has had 43 tactical deployments of our SWAT team to deal with high-risk search warrants, going to a home where people inside have criminal records and weapons. He cited a specific incident in east Davis where there was high power weaponry involved in a domestic situation where the perpetrator had three weapons that he fired.

Both Chief Black and Assistant Chief Darren Pytel showed examples of weapons found in the community and expressed concern about safety of the public and officers with these high powered weapons with ranges of half a mile that can penetrate both houses and personal protection.

Mayor Pro Tem Davis put forward a three-part motion. First, he said, “We instruct staff to return with options for disposing with the MRAP in the most expeditious and low cost manner within sixty days.” Second, “That we review donated or surplus material acquisition noticing guidelines to assure that major donated or surplus equipment … acquisitions by any department are reviewed by the city manager and city council.”

Third, “That we proceed with a very public update of the public safety issues related to active-shooter situations, warrants, and that we look at the solutions that do not represent repurposing of a military vehicle to face them and we hold public participatory forums to publicly share ideas on the options.”

In his comments to council prior to his motion, Mayor Pro Tem Davis indicated that he felt that council needed to weigh the probability of the need to use this vehicle in the community as well as the chances that it would be effective if the situation arose.

Speakers lined up to address council
Speakers lined up to address council

He further noted that we need to ask ourselves how far do we go to reduce our risks down to zero.

Mayor Pro Tem Davis said that “symbol matters,” and “we are a species that uses symbol” and “this symbolizes the most destructive force on the planet which is the US Military. I think we have to acknowledge that.”

He told the police chief, “I appreciate the trust that you’ve built in this community… this will hurt it.”

However, Brett Lee stated, “I do not support the motion because I think it makes the same mistake that got us to this situation which is we should discuss what the need is, and then pick what the most appropriate item is to address that need.” If we decide we do not need any equipment, we can choose not to acquire anything.

“In retrospect we probably should have been involved (in the decision), given the nature of the acquisition,” he said. “To just return it, without actually having had that discussion… if we return it, then we don’t have the ability to get it back. Two wrongs don’t make a right.”


“Three weeks from now if people feel the same way, we give it back,” he said, citing the process as being critical.

Robb Davis would respond, “I agree with everything that you’re saying except that I don’t think there’s going to be a scenario by which this vehicle will be acceptable to me or to this community.”

Councilmember Lee attempted a substitute motion to prevent the use of the vehicle unless the council authorizes its use. The council would then come back in four weeks to make a final disposition after studying the issue more.

He clarified, “We pretend as though we don’t have it and then we need to affirmatively say yes we want it or no, we don’t want it. We then follow the process that would have been best to have had from the beginning.”

Councilmember Lucas Frerichs said, “It’s hard to pretend that we don’t have it.” He would add that he supported the original motion on the floor.

Mayor Wolk explained his concerns with the vehicle, questioning the need as well as the perception in terms of the national trend of the militarization of the police force. He spoke of the pepper spray incident which he called “a black eye” for this community and “an overreaction by the police and law enforcement.”

“This council shouldn’t be in the role of dictating to the experts about what exactly we need to have,” he said, “but I think when it comes down to really big critical items like this one that really galvanize the community, I think there is a clear role for this city council in terms of its representation of the community.”

He added, “I do agree with Robb that I don’t see a scenario where I end up being okay with having this vehicle in our fleet.”

Brett Lee added a friendly amendment for a fourth point, which states, “The council would take the time over the next sixty days to meet with the police department to better understand the need for an armored vehicle at some type for the Davis Police Department.”

It was clear, however, that the line of separation between Brett Lee, and to a lesser extent Rochelle Swanson, and the other three was whether the council should leave open the possibility of reconsidering the vehicle in sixty days or make the decision immediately to return the vehicle.

Rochelle Swanson stated, “I think we need to right the wrong, and that means unfortunately having to do the process ourselves.” She didn’t want to make the same mistake of dismissing the equipment out of hand. “I feel like the motion just presupposes our decision,” she stated.

Robb Davis would again reiterate that he doesn’t see a scenario where this piece of equipment “will be acceptable to me and I won’t vote for it.” He agreed fully with going through that process, but did not believe it would change his mind.

Again, the council voted for this motion on a 3-1 vote, with Brett Lee in dissent and Rochelle Swanson abstaining.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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        1. Michelle Millet

          Thanks. I’m probably going to be banned from all those cocktail parties hosted by the liberal elite in this community. Believe or not I generally base my views on issues on my own thoughts and feelings, not those of the “usual crowd”.

    1. Frankly

      I was going to go, but I knew it was a hopeless cause. The emotional arguments were too strong. It like walking into an asylum and trying to convince the inmates to think rationally.

      My guess is that the silent majority in this town supported it, or did not have a problem with it. But as usually it is those that get their feelings amped up the most are the ones that get the attention of this council.

      Symbolism over common sense. Great. All that says is that we are incapable of doing the right thing when people are upset.

      This thing is no more than a bomb shelter on wheels. The moral equivalency is to reject bomb shelters because they remind us of war.

      1. Frankly

        By the way. Brett and Rochelle should be recognized as having the stuff of real leaders in this decision. They proved that they are capable and willing to make decisions for the good of the community in the face of opposition. I respect that even as I would disagree with a leaders’s decision from time to time.

        I think Robb Davis also did a fair job rationalizing his decision. But his problem was that he spent most of his brain power calculating why we would not need this tool, and not enough on why we would need to get rid of it. He stacked the logic deck to one side out of the starting gate, so his final determination was inevitable.

        1. Davis Progressive

          brett would have prolonged the agony for six weeks – to what end?

          i agree with you in the two people who were unimpressively pandering the entire time as they voted the way they thought the majority in the room wanted.

          1. Don Shor

            I think Brett and Rochelle were being respectful of the police chief and wanted to give him a chance to make his case more formally and more effectively. I doubt they or anyone else expected a different outcome from that process.

          2. Frankly

            Frankly (because I am), I think that more time would have helped get people to calm down and view this in a pure cost/risk-benefit assessment instead of being so emotionally amped up.

            I would better have supported a “get rid of it” vote after a more objective and rational cost/risk-benefit assessment.

            Instead we say a decision that was made mostly in the heat of out of control passions. Decisions made in an emotional state are rarely optimized. Most decision mistakes made by humans are made precisely because they let their emotions overrule rational considerations.

            Not problem having emotions and emotional responses… the key is to simmer down and think it through… understanding the root of the emotional response. Because we can also irrationally project strong feelings from one source or cause onto another subject.

            For example, being pissed off about Ferguson and the problems in the Middle East causing a general negative perception about police and a strong recoil to symbols of war.

            Ever throw a temper tantrum and get your way and then calm down and regret it?

      2. Alan Miller

        “But as usually it is those that get their feelings amped up the most are the ones that get the attention of this council.” Maybe this so-called “silent majority” is just lame, and assumes that it was a hopeless cause, that the emotional arguments were too strong. Nothing like pre-supposing an outcome to cause it to occur.

        Your logic is flawed. The council was 60% against the MRAP, while the public was 95% against the MRAP. All it would have taken is flipping one council member. Maybe you should have tried instead of not going and then complaining about Davis afterward in the Vanguard.

        1. Frankly

          The only flip vote potential was Robb Davis and he got all of my arguments on the VG. There was no need to go waste my time with that group of emotionally amped up people.

          The council needs to work on reaching out to their constituents without using the council meetings as their bellwether for public opinion. If they based all of their decisions on just who shows up at the council meetings to oppose something, they are going to miss the mark and erode the public trust in their capability to lead.

          1. Mark West

            Frankly: I find it humorous that you see those opposed to this vehicle as being the ’emotional’ ones, implying that you are the one being ‘rational.’ All one needs to do is read your posts from the past couple of days to see who’s emotions were in play.

            I don’t know if I heard him correctly, but the Chief brought up using this vehicle when serving warrants (though it wasn’t specifically spelled out that way in the staff report) and then commented (I believe) that the SWAT team was called out 40+ times last year to serve a warrant. If their intent was to use this vehicle every time the SWAT team was called out in this manner, then we aren’t looking at a ‘rare’ event as was presented, but a fairly common one at 3-4 times per month.

            I commented before on my concern about ‘mission creep’ and it seems that concern was justified. The CC made a rational decision last night in the face of emotional arguments on both sides.

          2. Frankly

            Not all that were opposed are the emotional ones. But did you watch the council meeting?

            This “militarization” point is an example of a level of hype. Is the issues symbolism or are there measurable and definitive problems we can point to?

            The way I see it is that people generally recoil from images of war and violent crime and war, but they irrationally project that onto soldiers and police as being the cause. It is idiotic in my view to make the case that just because the cops look a certain way, or use certain tools, that this causes the type of behavior that leads to justification for the look and tools. Bad guys exist. We cannot wish them away with flower-power.

            Do you really think putting cops in tie-die t-shirts and jeans and a clipboard is going to lead to more effective law enforcement? If not that far, then where do you draw the line? Maybe you are more on the side of US police being like British Bobbies. I don’t see that working very well, but maybe we should open a dialog about it.

            By the way… Britain has a lot of these blast-proof vehicles in service.

          3. TrueBlueDevil

            I’d find it informative and illustrative to know what these search warrants are for, and who we are serving warrants to.

            Is this a warrant to a slacker Dad who hasn’t paid his child support, or to a gang banger who has missed his meeting with his PO?

        2. Frankly

          The public was not 95% against the truck. Maybe your circle of friends was 95% against it, but I doubt your circle of friends represents the community. At least I know that they don’t represent my circle of friends in this town.

          1. Barack Palin

            I’ve been saying this for awhile. We have a group of dedicated activists who have the council’s ear. They’re many of the same people you see on the city commissions. So I feel we have a small minority pushing through their agendas over the silent majority. You have to hand it to them, they show up and are dedicated and for the most part the council won’t step on their toes.

          2. Michelle Millet

            I don’t have problem with dedicated activist. I have a problem when council bases decisions that effect the community at large on the opinions of these activist. Council should be representing the best interest of everyone in this community, not just the ones who email them and show up at meetings to express their opinions.

          3. Alan Miller

            Oi vey! Would you two stay-at-home anonymoids quit already! You say you didn’t go to the meeting, and then you complain in this little forum when you don’t get your way. Pu-leeeeeease!

            I would have been great to have you at the meeting. Maybe you should get on a city commission. Or have all your friends who you say are the “silent majority” actually vote. You do know if they are actually the majority that if they voted then their candidates would be on the council, right?

          4. Davis Progressive

            michelle: do you really believe that this was going to fly? don’t you think if the council had left this a citizen group would have put it on the ballot and it would have been voted out of town? is that really what we needed to focus on at this moment?

          5. Barack Palin

            Alan, I did email the council members, I almost always do. I think most people that feel differently than the 50 or so activists that posse up and always show for these types of causes feel why go to the meetings just to be outnumbered and looked down on by the liberal crowd. Unfortunately the council seems to not want to get on their bad side. Once again, kudos to Brett Lee for standing up to them and not pandering.

          6. Michelle Millet

            michelle: do you really believe that this was going to fly? don’t you think if the council had left this a citizen group would have put it on the ballot and it would have been voted out of town? is that really what we needed to focus on at this moment?

            I’m not suggesting we put it on the ballot. I’m suggesting that we don’t make a knee jerk reaction to owning it by voting to send it back before we have fully understood the cost and benefits of keeping it.

            I’m not as much disappointed in the outcome of last nights vote as I am in the process by which this decision was made.

      3. Davis Progressive

        “My guess is that the silent majority in this town supported it, or did not have a problem with it”

        you’re making the same mistake that the chief made in believing that this is a small minority of the population. the chief has a deaf ear on this. how he thought that the citizenry would be accepting of this is beyond me.

  1. Alan Miller

    DG, good job summarizing the discussion from a very long session.

    Yes, it was about ~50-3 against in the public and 3-2 against (the MRAP) on the Council.

    Did anyone catch what went down with Rochelle’s vote? I clearly saw her vote “yeah” when the vote was taken, and even saw Dan Wolk ask her what her vote was, I would guess because he was surprised by it. The vote was announced. Then, after the break, it was announced she abstained. Are Council members “allowed” to change their vote? I’ve never seen it before. Perhaps I misinterpreted what I saw; that’s how it appeared to me

      1. Barack Palin

        I’ll have to look at the video, but if she did indeed vote “yes” to make it 3-2 and it was later reported as 3-1-1 then that is just wrong. Brett Lee scored some points too for sticking to his guns.

        1. Alan Miller

          I wonder if the video will be focused in the right place. And I also wonder if technically this is “OK”. I also wonder what the motive/message was in seeking to “abstain” on such an important vote.

          1. Alan Miller

            So did everyone who left the room after the break was called and didn’t stay for the next item. Which was damn near everyone.

          2. Michelle Millet

            If Rochelle’s vote was recorded inaccurately why wasn’t the mistake corrected immediately?

          3. Rob White

            No votes were changed after the fact. City council voting process is very specific and requires accuracy. Council member Swanson did not vote yes and registered the inaccuracy with the parliamentarian (mayor) as soon as it happened. A break was called for them to converse so that she should correct the statement of the voting outcome.

            Additionally, the city attorney and city clerk would not allow for a changed vote post casting. Therefore, there must have been some reason for doubt about the original outcome. This is one of many reasons that video of the meeting exists as does the parliamentarian calling out the vote results. We work to get all of the checks and balances in place, but human processes can be fallible, which is why you will sometimes see the parliamentarian call out a specific vote for each council member. In this case, the error was noted quickly and rectified.

            And as David noted in his article above, Council member Swanson’s statements reflect her abstention… “It was clear, however, that the line of separation between Brett Lee, and to a lesser extent Rochelle Swanson, and the other three was whether the council should leave open the possibility of reconsidering the vehicle in sixty days or make the decision immediately to return the vehicle. Rochelle Swanson stated, ‘I think we need to right the wrong, and that means unfortunately having to do the process ourselves.’ She didn’t want to make the same mistake of dismissing the equipment out of hand. ‘I feel like the motion just presupposes our decision,’ she stated.”

            By David’s own reporting, a changed vote after the fact would be illogical and not meet the test of rationality. Again, the City takes protocol every serious, and the clerk, city attorney, city manager and parliamentarian all work together to ensure accuracy. And when an error is made, it is corrected quickly and on the record.

          4. Alan Miller

            Since for unexplained reasons the City Business Park Officer decided to write a verbose piece to defend a city council-member, I went to the video to look for myself. As objectively as possible here’s what I see at (3:34):

            Dan calls for the vote,
            Asks for in favors,
            Rochelle’s lips move,
            Dan asks for neighs,
            Rochelle’s lips do not move
            He turns to Rochelle and says, “Did you vote in favor?”
            Rochelle laughs briefly and looks down.
            The council briefly talks about a few other things with Dan leading,
            Rochelle comments briefly on that discussion,
            Rochelle does not approach Dan.
            Rochelle leaves the room out the secret back door.

            I am curious if others see it differently. I found this odd the moment I saw the vote in person, and the video — yes it’s a little hard to tell with the low quality vid — confirms what I thought I saw in person.

            I would like to correct the statement, “A break was called for them to converse”, as the break was happening regardless, it was not called FOR that reason.

          5. Michelle Millet

            I’m really confused. I just watch the tape. Dan said the motion passed 4-1. No one corrected him.

          6. Jim Frame

            the city attorney and city clerk would not allow for a changed vote post casting.

            According to Robert’s Rules Online (

            A member has the right to change his vote up to the time the vote is finally announced. After that, he can make the change only by permission of the assembly, which may be given by general consent; that is, by no member’s objecting when the chair inquires if any one objects.

            I don’t know if CA law recognizes Robert’s Rules in this regard, but it sure looked to me as though Rochelle voted one way — perhaps inadvertently — and then changed it. No harm, no foul, but unfortunately the video doesn’t show the exchange that occurred during the break.

            It’d be interesting to learn exactly what process was followed to correct/change her vote, though.

          7. David Greenwald

            Have to look at Rosenberg’s Rules of Order since that’s what the city uses, but it may well be similar.

  2. Alan Miller

    Funny, I thought Lucas, Dan and Robb scored some points. Could it be who scored points is based on our perspective on an issue? NO!!!!!!! I especially appreciate that Lucas, Dan and Robb saved me a lot of money in that I can now cancel the first run of “Tank the TANK” lawns signs.

    1. Michelle Millet

      I didn’t get a good sense from Lucas or Dan on why the opposed keeping the vehicle. The concerns they expressed were addressed by the Landy Black (i.e. no additional police time or expense would be necessary).

  3. Michelle Millet

    I don’t have particularly strong feelings about keeping or not keeping this vehicle. I see it as rescue vehicle that was given to us for free.

    I have a bigger problem with how the decision not to keep it was made, which seems to based on the fact that a vocal group of people don’t like it. My guess is that most people don’t have strong feelings about it either way, and are fine with the police acquiring it. Unfortunately we don’t generally hear from these people. It’s not accurate to gage general public opinion based on the number of people who show up at council meetings, or email their council members. IMO council should not be basing decisions on issues like this one on these biased public opinion samples. (To be fair to Robb I believe he based his decision on his own values, which were independent of public opinion.)

    1. Frankly

      Another voice of reasons. 100% agree.

      Although I am a bit more irritated because of the dismissal of the benefit of keeping our safety personnel safe. Tis the season to hate cops, right?

      1. Don Shor

        Tis the season to hate cops, right?

        I don’t believe Davis residents hate cops. I don’t think those who spoke against the MRAP hate cops. I don’t believe the Davis council majority hates cops. So I think you’ve made a hyperbolic leap.

        1. Frankly

          By the way… just read the headline of this VG article for evidence of the negative branding of police. Evidence of hate comes in subtleties right? I am reminded of that over and over again.

      2. Michelle Millet

        I did find it sad that so many people seemed willing to sacrifice officer safety for the sole reason that owning this vehicle made them personally uncomfortable. I’m not saying this was true for all public commenters, but it was a pretty big theme.

        1. Frankly

          I agree, but more to the point… it is the CC I am more disappointed in because they have a greater responsibility to factor that consideration.

          Cop haters are cop haters. Does our CC kowtow to them, or should the CC politely politely listen and then give preference to the safety as a first consideration? I see more kowtowing than I do consideration for the safety of our officers.

          1. Michelle Millet

            I agree. I wish officer safety had weighed more heavily in their decision and had been a greater part of councils conversation which instead, with few exceptions, seemed to focus on the fact the citizens didn’t like they way the vehicle made them feel.

          2. Don Shor

            Cop haters are cop haters.

            Doubling down on this now? So who hates cops in Davis? Please be specific. Otherwise: yes, it’s hyperbole, it’s intentionally provocative, and it is unnecessary. Can you have a discussion without typecasting those with whom you disagree?

      3. Alan Miller

        I called the cops two hours before I spoke at the meeting, as I testified, because there was a man in the bushes 30′ from my front door. As with 95% of the times of have an interaction with the Davis Police, I received excellent service. I really like the field police in this town in general, and have seen them use conflict de-escalation techniques on a couple of occasions and have been impressed in the few incidents I have seen. Also, Davis police were in the riot-gear line on 11-8-2011, and reportedly as a group expressed concern over the approach being employed by the UCD police. I’ve helped the police on several occasions catch criminals in the act and once went to testify against a person I helped apprehend. I like and support the Davis police. I think this acquisition is wrong for Davis. Two different things. If you listened to the testimony, the majority of the public and the council went out of their way to say how much they appreciated the Davis Police dept. That’s not the same as going along with every decision they make. And no, they weren’t “just saying that”. In my experience “police haters” can’t help themselves to make the point of how much they hate the police. I saw nothing but sincere appreciation of our Police Department, along with criticism for this one decision and how it was carried out. So in conclusion, the “police haters” label that you attempted to throw on everyone is flat wrong. Not even a nice try.

      4. PhilColeman

        I’m a cop, and the season for hating them was the 60’s. The respect (occasionally begrudging) shown towards the DPD leadership and membership was pervasive throughout the session. Cop-hating still exists, but in bite-size portions compared to 50 years ago.

        1. Michelle Millet

          While I didn’t sense a lot of hate towards to the police, I did get a sense of distrust from many of the public commenters. I wish officer safety had played a bigger part of the decision, or at least the conversation, of whether or not to keep the vehicle.

        2. David Greenwald

          Phil I thought one of the more remarkable aspects of last night’s meeting is that while there was passion, frustration, occasionally anger, and yet it was rarely directed at the local police and certainly to no one directly.

    2. Alan Miller

      Yes, let’s have the council no longer take public comment, or public emails, and instead have the council vote on what a small group of people on this site THINK is the opinion of a an actual majority of people who don’t care enough to email or come to a council meeting — or even read the paper — and vote instead on what this small, vocal-on-the-Vanguard thinks this bunch of silent people are thinking. Yet, great system.

      Oi vey! This is just sour grapes. After things don’t go as I would like on the council, such as the water rates for example, I don’t start making up silent groups of possibly-existent groups of people who actually think a certain way and actually would have changed the council’s vote, if only the council would listen to them in their massive silence!

      1. Michelle Millet

        First, I don’t care that much about what happens with the armored vehicle. I felt compelled to give public comment last night only to add a different perspective to the conversation.

        I believe public comment is important, so is the ability to communicate with your council members via email.

        What I don’t believe is that council should base their decisions on this as if it is a straw poll. They represent EVERYONE in this community including those who don’t vote or even realize we have a city council. The needs and desires of people that show up at council meeting should not be given any more weight then those who have no idea where council chambers are located.

        1. Alan Miller

          How would the Council determine what those people think? I don’t disagree that those that COME to meetings may not represent the community vote proportions, and I understand that only a small majority of people are inclined to go to City Council meetings, largely due to time limitations and priorities. However, taking the time to send an email on issues one cares about is not so burdensome. Some little birdies flew into my brain and lodged there and indicated that emails were similar in proportion to what was seen at the meeting. So those that don’t care enough to participate at all or gave up and stayed home because they couldn’t compete with the “emotional people” #whaaa! whaaa!# — how — or why — should these people be counted? How does the Council accurately assume what they think?

          1. Michelle Millet

            You are missing my point. Council should not IMO base decisions on how many emails they get on an issue. What if I got a bunch of people in South Davis to email council telling them we want a pool on our side of town, and we all showed up council meetings demanding one. Should council divert funds for a new pool because I can get enough people to ask for one? No. It’s council job to weigh the pro’s and con’s of any decision based on what is best for our community over all. Not just the “loudest” people.

            IMO-Brett’s proposal that we take more time to evaluate the need for an armored vehicle and the appropriateness of possessing this particular one best served the community as a whole. Not just the people in the room last night or the ones that sent emails.

          2. Barack Palin

            “It’s council job to weigh the pro’s and con’s of any decision based on what is best for our community over all. Not just the “loudest” people.”

            The best statement of the day.

          3. BrianRiley429

            Lots of suppositions, Michelle. One, you are supposing that the people who showed up at the council meeting were not any indication of what the “true,” overall opinion might be — and two, you are supposing that the council did not do as you say (carefully weigh the pros and cons).

          4. Michelle Millet

            One, you are supposing that the people who showed up at the council meeting were not any indication of what the “true,” overall opinion might be

            If we are going to base a decision on public sentiment then we should have a better sense of how the community overall feels on this issue. I don’t think we should base this determination on the number of people who show up at council meeting. Maybe in this case it happens to be ab accurate assessment, but maybe it’s not. I don’t think it is a reliable predictor.

            and two, you are supposing that the council did not do as you say (carefully weigh the pros and cons).

            Given the caliber of the questions asked last night it is apparent that council member knew very little about this vehicle, the training required to operate it, and the cost associated with maintaining it. Brett stated he hadn’t seen it yet, Lucas even asked if it was too heavy for our roads.

            Brett’s suggestions was to give the community and council a little more time to think about the pro’s and con’s. They voted against doing that.

          5. Barack Palin

            If a 50 meter pool was on the council agenda I have no doubt that the swimming community could rally hundreds of people to show to the meeting. Does that represent the whole community, I say no. I doubt most people against paying a tax for a new pool would bother showing up because the people for the pool are more energized than the people who are against it. That doesn’t mean that the community is more for a pool. The number or the loudness of the people that show up to a council meeting should have little bearing in the council’s decisions, but unfortunately our council let’s the local activists intimidate them.

  4. TrueBlueDevil

    Maybe our police officers should stop wearing bullet proof vests, as it sends the wrong message and contributes to the “militarization” of the police. Ban police dogs, too, which remind me of the Third Reich.

    An interesting side note, the pictures displayed didn’t show a very “diverse” crowd, it seems to show a lot of quasi, upper middle class hippies.

    1. Frankly

      You know, I just had a thought that aircraft are used in warfare so we should reject all aircraft.

      Helicopters bring up those terrible visions of Viet Nam… let’s get rid of those too.

      Also rockets. Down with rockets!

      And let’s also outlaw bomb shelters because those too remind us of war.

      Or maybe we just make sure these things never get to Davis… they are fine everywhere else.

  5. Alan Miller

    “An interesting side note, the pictures displayed didn’t show a very “diverse” crowd, it seems to show a lot of quasi, upper middle class hippies.”

    We encourage everyone to participate in the political process, unless it is on a topic on which those that will show up disagree with our beliefs, in which case we will complain on a blog by attaching labels to “them” in an effort to discredit, #ahem# . . . “them”.

  6. Davis Progressive

    i’d like to ask this – we have a situation as described last night, husband and wife fighting and it escalates, how does the vehicle help resolve the situation in the house?

    1. Frankly

      I think the tank would just blast the house with its cannon and then crush it, thereby eliminating the threat.

      Or maybe in the case where the wife had a history of abusing her husband and had a gun trained on him and had already shot out the window at the patrol cars that were attempting to get close enough to talk her down.

      1. Alan Miller

        “I think the tank would just blast the house with its cannon and then crush it, thereby eliminating the threat.”

        Now that example may have turned one or more council members to your side!

  7. Dave Hart

    To Michelle Millet as the only rational voice on the “Thanks for the Tank” side of the debate, I would suggest that the City of Davis rejection of this vehicle does not close the door on ensuring officer safety. A very important part of the council decision is to have more information on the use of current equipment and, most importantly, a public discussion. That will take a lot longer than 60 days. This is a process that is long overdue and the demise of the MRAP is what happens when policy is made administratively instead of politically. This is a plain case of the cart before the horse.

    It’s possible the community of Davis will end up with some kind of armored vehicle after the discussion is completed. It is also possible that 43 SWAT team deployments in the last five years was 40 too many. Hopefully, we will get to peer behind the curtain and gain confidence in what we are being told. The public, in general, has little trust in putting so much firepower into the hands of police bureaucracies. And that is not a liberal versus conservative assessment.

    1. Michelle Millet

      Dave a completely agree. The sticking point for me is that this vehicle was free. Why not just keep it decommissioned while we go through the process you outlined above, instead of returning it only to then decide we need a vehicle with its capabilities.

  8. Barack Palin

    “The public, in general, has little trust in putting so much firepower into the hands of police bureaucracies.”

    Please enlighten us as to what firepower the donated MWRAP was fitted with?

      1. Barack Palin

        If a shooter was holed up in a house sniping at cops and residents then poking a hole in a house might save a cop’s or civilian’s life. Otherwise I don’t see that happening.

  9. Biddlin

    ” It is also possible that 43 SWAT team deployments in the last five years was 40 too many.”
    But it makes for great photos to attach to federal grant funding applications.

  10. Biddlin

    ” I think most people that feel differently than the 50 or so activists that posse up and always show for these types of causes feel why go to the meetings just to be outnumbered and looked down on by the liberal crowd. ”
    That whine’s vintage was sour when first bottled after the 2008 elections. If there are more people who support a position, how is it you are always outnumbered at the meetings? How is it you seem to lose out at the actual polls? Are you all really too lazy to go to a meeting or vote? I call BS. Surely,I can’t be the only one weary of this pusillanimous drone.

      1. Biddlin

        If you feel that putting it to a vote would yield a different result, you’re in the referenda capitol of California. Maybe Mike H will help you gather signatures and put a measure to restore it on the ballot. I don’t believe it would have a chance of passing.

      2. BrianRiley429

        Michelle, I find your comment offensive. Showing up at a council meeting is part of the democratic process and part of democracy. You should never denigrate that.

        If a bunch of people showed up at a council meeting on some other issue and I disagreed with those people, I wouldn’t pooh-pooh their opinions and try to claim they weren’t significant. I would acknowledge their view, and realize that I had a lot of work to do better promulgate my view and win others over to my opinion.

        1. Michelle Millet

          Brian you may be misunderstanding my point. I have no problem with people showing up at council meetings to express their opinions. I do so frequently, and often encourage others to do so as well.

          I do have a problem with people making a correlation between how the community at large feels about an issue with the number who show up at council meetings.

        2. BrianRiley429

          I think the council members are smarter than that. Looks like you’re attempting to take the online dialogue down a side road that really isn’t that pertinent.

  11. Biddlin

    BTW-Today’s award for “Hyperbolic Comment” goes to whoever entitled this story.

    “Council Turns Back Tide of Police Militarization”

    Hearst caliber journalism.


    1. Dave Hart

      I disagree. The title is quite apt. I say this because of the huge amount of military hardware that has been funneled to civilian police forces. The narrative in the media and all around is “the only way to police is to outshoot the ‘bad guys’ whoever they are and not question it, you little pinkie lib.” If you disagree with me then you owe it to the discussion here to read the book by the retired police chief of Seattle, Norman Stamper, who addresses this very question and makes the same assertion about police militarization. His book is “Breaking Rank: A Top Cop’s Exposé of the Dark Side of American Policing”. He’s more of an expert on this issue than anyone who has commented on the Vanguard blog.

      1. David Greenwald

        It is interesting, Landy Black worked under Chief Stamper in Seattle. On the other hand, I once asked him about Chief Stamper and Chief Black is apparently not a fan.

  12. davisite4

    One aspect of the public comment that is being missed here were the number of students who showed up. That was really nice to see, and went beyond the “usual suspects” who were commenting. I think some of you are underestimating what a fight would have been unleashed had Brett’s proposal won the day. That being said, what Brett was proposing was very reasonable, and I could have lived with further discussion had his motion won the day. But as some have said already, the ultimate outcome would most likely have been the same. It’s called “consent of the governed” for a reason. If enough people didn’t want the MRAP (and no, you don’t get to call it a truck if I don’t get to call it a tank), there is not going to be MRAP in Davis. That’s not pandering. That’s recognizing reality and choosing to move on and focus on all of the other issues we’re facing.

    1. Alan Miller

      Had Brett’s motion passed, and his suggestion of bringing the MRAP out to the City Hall parking lot for everyone to look at passed, there would have been a giant rally of people with protest signs, both pro and con, with both sides having a couple of weeks to orgnaize, creating a huge spectacle for the TV news media. Not judging, just saying.

  13. Edgar Wai

    When I look at the MRAP I personifies it as a veteran soldier trying to see what value it could make after is life at a war zone. Sending it back or sending it elsewhere is okay but I hope the time it not to hostile. It hurts the feelings of the MRAP. Do we unilateral reject things from the military or do we reintegrate them with our values? Is a thing for ever stigmatized for what they were made for or could we show a way for anything to redefine itself?

    1. Michelle Millet

      Do we unilateral reject things from the military or do we reintegrate them with our values? Is a thing for ever stigmatized for what they were made for or could we show a way for anything to redefine itself?

      Excellent questions.

    2. Biddlin

      Even the military doesn’t want, Edgar. It was badly designed, ,has rollover and other control issues and now, it’s yours, until you find someone else to palm it off on.

      1. Edgar Wai

        Accordingly to wikipedia, the DLA doesn’t just give out MRAP. Individual police department needs to apply for it. So I suppose if we want to return this MRAP, some other place that wants it would have it. We don’t own it, we don’t have total control to decide to give it to someone else other than returning it.

  14. PhilColeman

    I’ve taken a full-time vacation from attending city council meetings after 7 years faithful weekly attendance. But I did tune in this one on TV. I was impressed with the brevity and general temperament of the commenters. Yes, there were the requisite drama-queens on display (in this instance, kings), but they are strategically positioned to give comedy relief. Both “sides” had at least one eloquent speaker. One older gentleman made an observation that was spellbinding to me regarding “process.” I get the distinct impression that everybody in the City has taken a blood-oath to not publicly discuss the communications breakdown on the tank.

    It was a bad evening for the PD. There were some huge holes in the argument for retention, but 2 councilmembers courteously pulled their counterpunch to avoid embarrassing the speakers.

    The high-water mark for the DPD was when Chief Black gave a rebuttal to the question of possible “military creep” this device may symbolize here and everywhere, to the further peril of American citizens liberties. It was a truly masterful response, and truly disappointing nobody even noted it. It bears repeating, so the creeps can stop creeping.

    Chief Landy said that compared to police eras past, today’s citizens are more effectively protected from police intervention into personal liberties than ever before. The creeping actually goes the other way, with our cherished civil liberties going upward.

    In full concurrence, I can go back a half-century for local police comparison purposes. The civil liberty denials and abuses by police then were much greater than now. Landy should have gotten a standing-O for that one. Instead, he received total silence and blank looks.

    1. Frankly

      I gave him a standing O from my living room.

      But I was not surprised that he got silence. There is no perspective from the average attendee for things being better today in terms of civil liberties. That message does not fit their narrative.

      The Social-civil justice/egalitarian/fairness drumbeat continues at the same fevered pitch until the universe stops expanding and we collapse back into that singularity.

    2. davisite4

      I was stunned in silence in my living room. He didn’t answer the question. The question was, what would be an example of mission creep with the MRAP? What would it look like? And he dodged the question completely by saying that the direction of policing has gone in the other way. We can debate the truth of that claim (I happen to disagree), but that’s not the point. He didn’t answer the question. He knows that there is such a thing as mission creep; he acknowledged as much in his earlier comment. He wants to deny that mission creep would occur. OK, but what would mission creep be for a MRAP, if we did happen to see it? That was the question he artfully dodged.

      For example, there was a MRAP-like vehicle used in Ferguson, with police pointing guns at protesters from the top of it. Presumably, that counts as mission creep. If you haven’t seen the picture, just google it. It’s all over the internet.

      1. Frankly

        This is astoundingly illustrative of the lack of rational thought and the vast level of hypocrisy coming from the opposition.

        Point to mission creep in Ferguson to explain why we should reject this tool in Davis… while also claiming that Davis would not have riots and looters like Ferguson.

        The Chief is correct… we have gone way far in hamstringing police in the name of civil liberties. But those that depend on the cause for their identity will never acknowledge and celebrate the “progress”… instead they fixate on that last tiny shred of evidence they can find that the community is not 100% in compliance with their extreme and unattainable demands.

        I think some of Davis’s social justice crusaders are bored in Davis and just stir up trouble for individual identity and validation purposes. It is like they lost their nickle in the dark and dank cellar but they demand to look for it in the bright and sunny park.

        1. davisite4

          Ok, so at least you are acknowledging that there is such a thing as mission creep with a MRAP-like vehicle, and that it occurred in Ferguson. Good, that’s progress, and already more than the Chief managed.

          Why is it relevant? Well, maybe it isn’t. But until we have examples of mission creep, we can’t talk about how likely they are. The Chief dodged the question so that the question couldn’t be examined. He lost some respect from me when he did that.

          You’re right, we can’t have it both ways. We can’t pretend that Davis can’t be Columbine while simultaneously pretending that Davis can’t be Ferguson. If we want to look at worst-case scenarios, we have to look at them from both sides. We can’t assume “cops always behave well,” “citizens always behave badly” (nor can we assume the reverse).

          1. Frankly

            Good post. You have me thinking that you and I could share a cup of coffee or a beer and actually communicate with each other.

            I see an MRAP-like-vehicle as an insurance policy… having a tool that might be not only useful, but essential, in certain situations. Just like I hope I never use my death benefit of my life insurance, I would hope we never use the MRAP.

            I point to active shooter events that have happened in other parts of the country, and project events like a Bakkan Oil trail derailment in town, as examples of why we need that insurance.

            But you seem to be making the corresponding argument that we need to rid ourselves of the vehicle as an insurance policy that the Davis police to not misuse it? And you point to Ferguson as an example for why would need that insurance.

            If we get rid of the symbolism problem which I don’t support and don’t agree with and think it makes for absolutely stupid public policy… then we get to this insurance utility assessment.

            And here is where your argument loses ground. There are other ways to insure and ensure that the Davis cops don’t inappropriately use the tool (and we can certainly just look at their current and past performance dealing with crime and safety issues to help reassure us that they are not going to go off like Ferguson). Police protocols exist… you don’t see police carrying automatic weapons for traffic stops? These guys are used to assessing the situation and picking the right tools for the job. The city can demand that the police limit the use of the vehicle to certain types of events. For example, not against peaceful civil disobedience.

            But there are no other ways to substitute the potential utility of this vehicle in these scenarios. Instead of allowing the insurance you have eliminated access to insurance that has no alternative. I really, really hope for your sake and the sake of everyone else that pushed to eliminate this tool that your actions can never be pointed to as having contributed unnecessarily to the harm of others.

          2. davisite4

            Next thing you know we’ll be holding hands and singing “kumbaya.” 🙂

            On the one side: You have citizens who might misbehave. You have laws that you pass to prevent them from misbehaving, and you have consequences for their misbehavior. People misbehave anyway. We need to reduce the risk from those misbehaviors.

            On the other side: You have police who might misbehave. You have laws that you pass to prevent them from misbehaving, and you have consequences for their misbehavior. Police misbehave anyway. We need to reduce the risk from those misbehaviors.

            See? The argument goes both ways, the same in each case.

            So, is the MRAP the best way to handle citizen misbehavior while reducing the risk of police misbehavior? I don’t think that it is. I think that, as others have said, that a MRAP would tend to inflame situations and is too easy to be misused. I hope that the discussion that the City Council voted for will reveal a solution that better handles both citizen and police misbehavior.

  15. hpierce

    Does it bother anyone but me that two CC members voted to have a more thorough community discussion, than almost in the same breath say that it doesn’t matter to the way they will vote?

    1. Robb Davis

      Can you clarify this hpierce?

      SODA, I see your comments on hypocrisy but am a bit confused. My motion included taking a look at the public safety issue in more detail and asking the best ways–not way–to deal with it. I am open to considering all options except one–the one I said I felt needed to be off the table: the MRAP. I explained why I felt this option needed to be off the table but unless I am wrong there ARE other options that do not carry the same symbolism. Folks may disagree with me on the importance of symbols and that is fair enough. But I was arguing that there are reasons–good reasons–why the MRAP is not, in my opinion, an option we can consider for Davis. Beyond that, let’s do what we should have done up front: define the nature of the problem, explore the gamut of solutions and then figure out what we can do.

      1. SODA

        yes Robb, am with you on most of what you say, but to say we will discuss and consider all (blue sky, no prejudgments) then start the motion with ‘take it back’ seems counter productive to me….or better yet, counter process, if you follow my muddled train of thought.
        I realize it might have been wise to settle it last night as the vote went, but still am having trouble meshing the two.
        And I appreciate your discussion of the symbolism. That was good to introduce.
        still friends? 🙂

        1. Matt Williams

          SODA, with respect to the point you are making, as I noted in the video thread, it is ironic that Robb and Brett effectively reversed the roles that they played out in the Parcel Tax item early in July.

          In that Davis-Lee interchange Brett was the person arguing for an immediate action moving forward a Parcel Tax on the November Ballot. Robb was the person calling for a more thorough process that addressed the full extent of the deferred maintenance liabilities the City is facing.

          In this Davis-Lee interchange Robb is the person arguing for an immediate action moving forward the disposing of the MRAP in the most expeditious and low cost manner within sixty days. Brett was the person calling for a more thorough process that addressed the full extent of the issues associated with the proposed MRAP disposal.

      2. hpierce

        I’d be re-iterating most of what SODA said… but, for me, looking at the previous quotes attributed to you by David from the Sunday ‘interview’, the part about “weighing the probability of needing” the vehicle, and possibly confusing your comments with some of the comments of Mr Lee in the article, and the fact that the issue came up in the context of an “informational” memo from PD, I was surprised with your conclusion that ‘it has to go’ (but willing to discuss how), and the ‘options open, except this one’ approach. After all, there was no indication in the published agenda that the CC would be taking a position other than receiving the information, and directing staff to come back for further discussion or action. There was no staff recommendation (cowardice, or just ‘resignation’?) with the item. It appears the “fix” was ‘on’. Put something on the agenda so that the strident voices could be mollified.

        At least you were honest (apparently) in implying your mind is made up. That was not evident from the Sunday interview account. I have no idea whether you had thought about it further, counted strident voices (votes?), or some combination thereof.

        At the end of the day, if we had an item in front of us prior to the acquisition, of whether to proceed or not, I think I would have looked at the costs (maintenance and ops) and suggested we “pass” on it. I’ve said more than once that it wasn’t on my top 100 things the City needs.

        It’s evident that it’s ‘gone’. Fine. Just don’t shroud it in a “will of the people” BS.

        1. Robb Davis

          Thanks hpierce. I wanted to make sure I understood your point. You know how to reach me if you have any questions for me about the process.

          I should say, that if the Sunday interview had been of better quality you would have seen where I was on this issue. I am, personally, not shrouding it in a “‘will of the people’ BS.” This was my decision weighing the various factors and tradeoffs and I take responsibility for it. I lay it at no one else’s feet.

          FWIW, I had an extended face to face with Chief Black about this issue and then an email exchange yesterday informing him of the direction of my thinking so that it would not come as a surprise to him.

  16. Frankly

    PhilColeman: I’m a cop, and the season for hating them was the 60′s. The respect (occasionally begrudging) shown towards the DPD leadership and membership was pervasive throughout the session. Cop-hating still exists, but in bite-size portions compared to 50 years ago.

    Ok. Fair enough.

    So here is a hypothetical.

    The fire department announces a new tool added to their equipment. It is painted red with Fire Department markings and logos and the words “Hazardous Environment Access Vehicle”. It happens to be the same MRAP vehicle. Also, the vehicle replaces another that has many fewer features and less utility… but at the same operating cost.

    Do you think we would have had the same public outrage?

    1. PhilColeman

      The hypothetical analogy with the substitution of a fire department does not even remotely compare. Fire fighters lack the extraordinary and unique government sanctioned powers given to law enforcement officers, including the ability to take a human life in defined circumstances. Nothing in the fire department role has a parallel.

      So it follows that law enforcement is to be held to a higher standard of behavior (and the more nebulous “image”) in this free society, as it should be.

        1. John

          I agree 100% Frankly. That is precisely why when BrianRiley stated,

          “I think it might be time to fire the chief of police. […] The purchase of the vehicle was “over the top,” and shows that the chief has developed too much of a police-centric view of law enforcement. We need someone with a broader vision.”

          I asked him whether his assertion was based solely on his one vehicle acquisition event? Or are there other examples of “over the top” “police-centric views” that Chief Black has exhibited in recent history? Thus far Mr. Riley has chosen not to answer the question, but has renewed his call for the Chief’s firing.

          The fact that in 2009 the Council authorized the Police Department’s pursuit of this type of acquisition is being swept under the rug.

          Focus the process on determining what the best disposition of the vehicle is. if in the process it is determined that the acquisition process had demonstrable problems, then address those problems. If those problems are shown to rise to the level of a firing offense, then you have sufficient information to deal with that in a rational and informed fashion.

          In a situation where many of the complaints are about the failure of process, it seems like some of the solutions proposed are also failures of process.

          1. davisite4

            The fact that in 2009 the Council authorized the Police Department’s pursuit of this type of acquisition is being swept under the rug.

            No, it was discussed at the meeting, not swept under the rug. And as Robb Davis revealed, what was approved in 2009 was actually quite vague, even misleading.

          2. David Greenwald

            Just have to note that twice I quoted the 2009 resolution and it never made a mention of military weapons and was never pulled off consent. Misleading is actually an understatement.

          3. John

            davisite4, my comment was not intended to reference the Council’s actions at last night’s meeting, but rather many of the discussions and assertions that have taken place here in the Vanguard since David’s first article on Augusty 20th.

            Thank you for making that clarification/correction.

          4. Michelle Millet

            When David’s was referring to weapons he was referring to MRAP? How is this thing a weapon?

          5. Barack Palin

            Brian, it’s not a weapon, all weapons have been removed. It’s now a vehicle that could shield officers and the public from weapons. Why is that so hard to comprehend?

          6. BrianRiley429

            “Comprehension only happens when there is a desire to comprehend.”

            What are you trying to do, declare a state of rhetorical war against me? Be careful, because you might get what you ask for.

          7. Frankly

            Brian – that is a very interesting map from the NYT. Who would have thought that little Yolo County with so many Davis anti-gun people would have such and large number of assault rifles?

            Does that not make a case for a bullet proof people transporter?

          8. BrianRiley429

            Frankly, for gosh sakes (!), those are assault rifles that were acquired by Yolo county governmental agencies, like police agencies — NOT by ordinary citizens.

      1. Frankly


        I have a question for you. How does a decision like this play with general police morale? If I am a Davis cop it appears to me that my safety is less important than is placating a minority of loud and hypersensitive citizens. It also seems to send a message that I am not to be trusted.

  17. SODA

    I appreciate Robb’s passionate motion and his rationalization but think it is hypocritical to say, ‘we need to determine need and examine this process’ while rejecting the truck/tank/peacekeeper ( whatever) out of hand.
    I am not sure how I feel about it but the vote bothers me as does the non-transparent process of ordering. And I agree with the comments about Lucas and Dan’s statements and vote…..appeared uninformed and lock-step with crowd.

    1. Barack Palin

      “And I agree with the comments about Lucas and Dan’s statements and vote…..appeared uninformed and lock-step with crowd.”

      I agree, their votesand comments reminded me of their votes and comments on firefighter staffing.

    2. Davis Progressive

      the problem is everyone knows that the community is angry and upset about this and the council could not afford to allow it to remain on the radar when they want to focus on things like economic development and the parcel tax.

        1. hpierce

          Well, I think Palin would have been more accurate to say “a loud and strident portion” of the community, but yes… I think the action was to go for ‘damage control’ rather than a deliberative approach.

  18. realchangz


    From the standpoint of someone who highly respects the thoughtfulness and deliberativeness of the Davis Police Department, it is difficult to understand why the rush to judgment in this particular instance.

    Maybe I read the Economist a bit too often, but there are other realities out there. Other places that none of us would wish to live. But to disregard the reality that our state has one of the most porous borders in the country and our capitol is one of the most “on the map” locations in the world, it sure seems worthy of a little more discussion about the Department’s decision to accept a free asset which might become of “surprising value” within the context of our region.

    Just saying, sometime reality is not as simple as we might wish.

  19. Napoleon Pig IV

    Now that a plan for disposal within 60 days is needed, let’s just ship the not-a-tank to Ukraine so the not-Russian-invaders can be more easily dealt with.

  20. Edgar Wai

    I think we don’t own it:

    “The Defense Logistics Agency is charged with off-loading 13,000 MRAPs to 780 domestic law enforcement agencies on waiting lists for vehicles. The DLA does not transfer property to the agencies, so the vehicles are allocated to the agencies with costs picked up by them or the state, while the vehicles still remain property of the Defense Department. To receive an armored vehicle, a requesting agency has to meet certain criteria including justification for use like for shooting incidents, SWAT operations, and drug interdiction, geographical area and multi-jurisdiction use, ability to pay for repairs and maintenance, and security and restricted access to the vehicle.[107]”

    Since there is supposedly a wait list, if it is returned it will probably go to

    1. Matt Williams

      Brian, a review of the data in your linked Excel file shows that there were 435 purchases of “ASSAULT RIFLE,5.56 MILLIMETER” for $499.00 each between March 2006 and September 2008, and 14 purchases of “ASSAULT RIFLE,7.62 MILLIMETER” for $138.00 each between March 2006 and September 2008. The data prompts a few questions.

      (1) Does Yolo County have 449 police officers in total?

      (2) If the answer to that first question is “no” then the follow-up question naturally is, why would the Yolo County police agencies be purchasing more weapons than they have officers?

      (3) A more germane question is, approximately how many SWAT Team Officers are there in Yolo County?

      The answers to those three questions lead one to believe that the data in your Excel spreadsheet may be for cartridge (bullet) purchases not assault rifle purchases. In fact, when you put the term ASSAULT RIFLE,5.56 MILLIMETER into google you pretty quickly find out that 5.56 millimeter is as standard NATO cartridge size, and 7.62 millimeter is another standard NATO cartridge size.

      Can you confirm whether the data you have provided is for cartridges or rifles? Also, there are many, many manufacturers of rifles that use 5.56 millimeter and 7.62 millimeter cartridges. Does the data that fed your Excel sheet have information about (A) what manufacturer made the rifles, and (B) which Yolo County governmental agencies made the purchases?

      1. BrianRiley429

        I’ve already mentioned to you that I no longer wish to get into long, drawn out debates with you on this site, so I’m declining to answer your questions. If you have a contact person in the police department who is feeding you information, then have that person debate with me directly.

        1. Matt Williams

          Brian, no one is feeding me information, and I have not had a conversation with a single person from the Police Department or any other law enforcement agency since I paid a parking ticket at the City of Davis Police Department information window over six months ago. The questions I asked you are common sense questions based on (1) the straight-forward information you provided in the Excel spreadsheet, and (2) a bit of Google searching of the terms contained in your spreadsheet. As I said before, you are choosing to comprehend only that information that you want want to comprehend.

      2. Mark West


        While I agree it would be interesting to know the answers to your questions about the number of officers, I don’t see how it is relevant in understanding the data that Brian presented, or for that matter, why you would expect Brian to know the answers. I do not know the source of the data that Brian presented, so have no way of judging its validity. A valid question for him therefore is just that, what is your source? Your questions seem to imply that you doubt the validity, but for whatever reason you never come out and state that.

        The data in the spreadsheet clearly states rifles, not ammunition, and the prices listed are not unreasonable (though considerably less than what a private citizen would have to pay). Weapons of this sort are classified by the size of ammunition they use, with several different types of weapons using the same size cartridge This has great utility as I am sure you will understand since an agency can standardized on one or two cartridges, while being able to source weapons from multiple manufacturers or for different uses. Just within a SWAT team for instance, a sniper would want to use a different weapon than would an assault team member, though both weapons might well use the same size of cartridge. The sniper will want a heavier weapon with a longer barrel for greater accuracy at a distance, while the assault team member would want something shorter and lighter to be used in rapid assaults in tight spaces. Interchangeable ammunition just means one less thing that you have to worry about.

        An agency purchasing more weapons than their available officers is also not unreasonable. Under the best of situations these weapons break down for various reasons so there would need to be replacements available. Also, you may want the officers to train on multiple types of weapons, even though they may regularly use only one . Having extra on hand is not just prudent, but a requirement for a functioning unit.

        Ammunition to agencies is sold in bulk, and would be listed in 100’s or 1000’s of rounds, not ‘each.’ 30 years ago when I was competing as a marksman, the very best ammunition available for the rifle I was using, National Match 7.62mm, cost about $25 per box of 20 rounds. Even with inflation, $138 per round doesn’t make sense, let alone $499 each of the much smaller 5.56mm round listed in the spreadsheet. In fact, I just Googled .308 Ammo (otherwise known as 7.62mm) and came up with prices of $20-40 per box of 20 retail.

        So while your questions are of interest, your assumptions are wrong. The data presented is for the purchase of weapons, not ammunition.

        1. Matt Williams

          Mark, since Brian is the source of the data he provided. The number of officers is relevant because it is highly unlikely that more assault rifles would be purchased than the number of officers, and 449 officers for the County seems rather high. The third question is relevant, because patrol officers being assigned to an assault team that requires the issuing of an assault rifle seems to have a low probability. SWAT Team members being assigned such duty seems much more likely.

          Regarding the pricing $138 for a $4,000 item seems a bit extraordinary. Even $500 for a $4,000 item seems unusual. You may be right that those prices may be reasonable, but to the best of my knowledge there is only one person posting in this thread who can shed light on whether a $138 price for a $4,000 item is reasonable … that person is Brian. In asking the question I’m assuming that he did his due diligence prior to posting the data.

          The labels in the spreadsheet are terse. I don’t see them as “clearly” stating anything.

          The logic you lay out regarding generic labels makes sense with respect to cartridges, but why would you generalize the descriptions of a H&K G36 and an AK 47 into ASSAULT RIFLE,5.56 MILLIMETER? Further, the variations you describe in types of rifles using NATO 5.56 millimeter cartridges would seem to argue for more specific descriptions in the database. Inventory control would be a nightmare with generalized descriptions. That would be like keeping inventory of all your wines at Rominger-West with the generalized descriptions RED WINE and WHITE WINE.

          Your point about having more weapons than available officers gets back to my original questions to Brian. Other than SWAT deployments in Davis how many times do you think a police officer went on a call with an assault rifle? Taking that question a step further, how many SWAT deployments do you think Davis had in 2013? I have no idea, but my wild ass guess would be somewhere around 12 (on e a month on average). Other than when out on a deployment, the rifles would sit in storage. I’m not sure how/why a rifle would break down while in storage.

          Regarding the points you raise in your Ammunition paragraph, “each” refers to the terse descriptions in the spreadsheet. “Each” clearly doesn’t refer to a single cartridge, but an aggregation of cartridges. You have described one such aggregation … a box of 20. How many boxes does a case hold? I have no idea.

          So I made no assumptions other than that Brian would do his due diligence prior to posting the data. Otherwise he would be practicing Mike Harrington diplomacy/politics.

          1. Jim Frame

            Regarding the pricing $138 for a $4,000 item seems a bit extraordinary. Even $500 for a $4,000 item seems unusual.

            Not to get in the middle of a spat about data sources and interpretation, but I can attest that it’s not uncommon for outdated and/or surplus equipment to be sold at a small fraction of original cost.

            In the realm of survey instrumentation, I’ve seen government surplus optical instruments with original price tags in the $6k range go at auction for less than $500, sometimes less than $200.

            Even in the private sector, the market can be harsh in its valuation of superseded gear. I recently picked up a fully-operational geodetic-quality GPS receiver that originally sold for around $20k for a grand total of $145, including shipping. This is an instrument that’s capable of delivering the same accuracy as current production units, the tradeoffs being size, power requirements, and the fact that the older device is almost 20 years outside of its predicted service life (yet still going strong).

            Thus a $500 price tag on a used M16 doesn’t surprise me at all, especially considering that this price is for equipment limited to public agency acquisition.

            Carry on!

        2. Matt Williams

          Out of deference to daviste4 and others, and since it is clear that you don’t like the way I ask questions, and I accept the fact that you feel that way, let’s agree to disagree and not burden this comments section with a back and forth between the two of us. I see Brian practicing hit and run. You do not. We can agree to disagree on that as well.

          1. Mark West

            I was just trying to correct your poor assumptions, but you appear to be more interested in continuing your spat with Brian than actually learning anything. Have fun with that.

          2. BrianRiley429

            Thanks, Mark. I don’t even read his comments anymore, including his response to me above, which I have not read — I jumped past it. The clincher was the “seeing demons” accusation. I’m sorry. If someone says that, then that’s the end of our relationship, period. No apologies or explanations accepted.

  21. Tia Will


    First, welcome back to commenting !

    I appreciate your point of view. As a pacifist, I am fully in support of the use of this vehicle for completely non militaristic purposes just as I would welcome back a soldier. I have no problem in using it as a display of vehicles designed for use in war as a cautionary message. I have no issue with using it as a play structure or decorative piece in our community. If I truly felt that it only had potential as a defensive piece of equipment, I would have no problem with its use for that exclusive purpose.

    However, I think that there is strong evidence, including some from very recent events in our own community, that misuse of objects can occur. Mistakes in judgement on the part of civilian and police leaders can and do occur. We have the proof right on our own campus. So what is unacceptable to me is the unilateral decision to acquire this vehicle without the previous thorough vetting with community leaders of all of the pros and cons of its acquisition in an open, transparent, evidence based manner. The very fact that this lapse in judgement about the means of acquisition serves as a warning to me that perhaps similar such lapses in judgement might lead to the misuse of this vehicle in an ambiguous situation where a threat was perceived which perhaps did not exist in reality much as occurred in the pepper spraying incident or the incident described by former Police Chief Stamper regarding the
    WTO protests in Seattle in which the police action actually exacerbated the situation by his own assessment.

    1. Michelle Millet

      I appreciate your point of view. As a pacifist, I am fully in support of the use of this vehicle for completely non militaristic purposes just as I would welcome back a soldier

      Tia this ties into the conversation we had the other night. My question is would you only welcome back the soldier if he/she took on a pacifist role. Would you be comfortable with then entering the police force even though the had been, for lack of a better word “militarized”.

  22. Tia Will


    You raise a good point. I would welcome him ( or her) back regardless. And I would accept them on the police force only if I felt that there were no possibility that they might revert to the techniques that they had been taught to use in battle and use those against civilians. I would generally prefer that individuals trained in the military not take on roles in policing when they return if they have been trained for combat which would imply to me that they have specifically been trained to kill.

  23. Jim Frame

    Beating an apparently lifeless horse a bit here, but as solid — if PD-centric — as I found Landy Black’s presentation, I remain skeptical about the cost of owning an MRAP. I note that San Jose PD decided to get rid of theirs (the PD decided, not the CC), and the SJ Mercury News article ( features a sidebar that puts the cost of conversion to civilian use at around $20k, thus casting the repeated claims of “free” in further doubt.

  24. Pingback: Davis, CA City Council Votes to Dispose of Its Military-Style MRAP Vehicle | Ben Swann Truth In Media

  25. Pingback: City Council Orders Police: Get Rid Of That Armored Truck! | Off The Grid News

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