Mayor Pro Tem Speaks on MRAP at Council Meeting (Video)


Davis-RobbLast night, 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.

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.”

Here are Mayor Pro Tem Davis’ full remarks:


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14 thoughts on “Mayor Pro Tem Speaks on MRAP at Council Meeting (Video)”

  1. Davis Progressive

    robb struck the right note here, warning about how this would undercut the public trust in the police. i keep coming back to the utter lack of sense for how the community would react to this.

  2. Matt Williams

    One of the ironies of the way last night’s meeting unfolded is that Robb Davis and Brett Lee 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.

  3. Edgar Wai

    I am not comfortable with the result last night. I think the arguments from Chief Black supporting his decision were clear and addressed the concerns on cost and mission creep. For this issue, I believe that the police’s desire to protect its officers and us is realistic. I feel that the police is under-protected for the risk of their work.

    I see three types of approaches to reduce those risks:
    1. Reducing the occurrence of those situations
    2. Increasing the protection during confrontations
    3. Changing the tactics dealing those situations

    When I consider the context and imagine myself being someone who has been working on a risky task knowing that I don’t have the type of protection I wanted, I would have tried to think of alternative ways that are less risky without breaking regulations. If I put myself on a wait list for more protective armor, but the wait list is two years long, I am not just going to passively wait for the day when the armor arrives, because I am facing the risk every day.

    I would assume that the police had been doing the same, finding ways to work in safer ways. I am not saying that the police necessarily know the best way to do their job. Similarly, I am also not saying that the people outside the police necessarily know a better way to do police job. Reasonably, there should be an uncertainty from both side that neither knew for certain what was best.

    If that uncertainty is absent, we would not be discussing what we are discussing now, but listing the alternative ways and evidences that in each type of situation, there is a better way to handle the situation without using a MRAP.

    Our inability to readily list those situations and counter-measure is the proof that the uncertainty exists. Then, neither side would be ready to dismiss the experience, knowledge, and creativity of the other side.

    According to the result of the council decision, the police’s plan was nullified. According to the police, that was a good and financially viable solution to the type of risk they face. When the council unilaterally nullifies someone’s plan to protect themselves, the council takes on the responsibility to provide alternate but equivalent protection.

    (Similarly, if the police unilaterally insists to use the MRAP and create community anxiety, or community identity crisis, the police takes on the responsibility to do something relief that anxiety.)

    For every action you impose to someone, you gain the responsibility to offset the damage of that action.

    Now, every one who wants the MRAP gone takes part of the responsibility to find, or help the police find an alternative that would make the police equally safe in doing their work.

    Since the police might have been waiting for the MRAP for two years, and the plan is abruptly nullified, I feel that the council might be two years behind in proposing alternatives.

    Does the police want us to study their situations and propose alternative, or does the police feel comfortable that they could propose an alternative? At this very moment I see the police as the victim, but the victim should have the rights to waive the council of the responsibility to find an alternative. Having a joint discussion is not necessarily a cost-effectively way to reach a good equivalent solution, and it is not clear who is sponsoring that discussion cost.

    1. Frankly

      You make the assumption that people opposing the MRAP actually care enough about police safety to be motivated to take responsibility for participating in the development of alternative solutions. They are more likely to be involved in negative branding of the police in general.

      But great post. I largely agree with everything you wrote from a idealistic perspective. I think the challenge is to factor in the point that people opposing or supporting sides of conflict really just want to win.

    2. Alan Miller

      “every one who wants the MRAP gone takes part of the responsibility to find, or help the police find an alternative that would make the police equally safe in doing their work.”

      I’ll get right one on that.

      “Since the police might have been waiting for the MRAP for two years, and the plan is abruptly nullified, I feel that the council might be two years behind in proposing alternatives.”

      Would have helped if the City Council knew the thing was coming, or were told in advance that the need existed.

      1. Edgar Wai

        From the meeting I think Chief Black also agreed that if he knew the community would react the way it is now, he would have done or consider more before getting the MRAP.

        The explanation I understood from him was that the police have been looking for a replacement for the aging, re-purposed ambulance. Replacing it with an armored vehicle (like the peace keeper that the neighboring agency has) had always been one of the acceptable options but it was too expensive. But with the 1033 program, the police could get an armored vehicle for free.

        When I follow that explanation, to me it felt analogous to me trying to buy an item too expensive, then found an even better item at a thrift store. Although the item is a surplus, there is a limited number of them. Everyone who wants it has to wait in line. I don’t know how difficult it might be for an agency to get it. I do not know whether the police had been praying to get one, or just casually waiting for a “nice-to-have”, with some expectation that they might not get it (like any other grant application).

        From Google images, the peacekeeper (which Davis PD does not have, but can borrow), is about the size of a big pick-up truck, where the body is armored and the truck bed is an armored enclosure. The armor of the peacekeeper look thin. Chief Black said high power rifles (the types that are found in Davis) can penetrate a peacekeeper.

        Again from Google images, the MRAP is about the size of a dump truck (the kind that transport rocks and debris), where the body is more heavily armored, and the back is an armored enclosure. High power rifles cannot penetrate an MRAP. As Chief Black described it was a boulder that moves, that can block bullets.

        I don’t think the police considered the fact that the MRAP came from the military was an issue. I assume that they just see it as a low cost and good option (a bargain). I find it believable that the police simply did not foresee the reaction to think that they need to inform the council.

        In our timeline, who took the initiative to tell us that Davis PD has an MRAP. Did someone just discover that we have one, or did the PD self-disclosed that they had an MRAP?

        1. Alan Miller

          I believe they self-disclosed after it arrived. I find it hard to believe, if as stated it was requested six months after 11-18, that the police dept. wouldn’t understand the reaction of many in Davis to a military vehicle with a turret. It’s possible, but it’s politically tone deaf.

        2. Edgar Wai

          I think maybe the police draws a difference between having something and using those things at a given situation. Presumably Davis PD had pepper spray but would not and did not use it on 11-18. I saw a contrast between how Davis PD operated and how the UC PD operated toward occupy/protestors. Do you remember a contrast?

          I am not sure whether UC police have SWATs, but Davis PD has it. I don’t remember whether there were SWATs on 11-18. My impression is that even back then, Davis PD had much more fire-power than the UC PD, but they didn’t deploy them.

          The MRAP is meant to be for the SWAT, replacing the swambulence. So in a situation where the SWAT is not deployed, the MRAP would not be deployed.

    3. Tia Will


      “At this very moment I see the police as the victim, but the victim should have the rights to waive the council of the responsibility to find an alternative”

      I am largely in agreement with your reasoning in this post until you got to this line. The police victimized themselves by their unilateral decision to acquire the MRAP without consultation with the city leadership. At any time during those 2 years of “standing in line” they had the opportunity to consult. They should completely own the results of this poor choice. To put this in terms of your own analogy, would you stand in line to purchase a large item from a discount store without at least calling your wife to see if she also wanted the item in the house ?

      Those who are continually asserting that those in opposition do not care about police safety are simply choosing to ignore the comments about working together to seek alternatives as was made apparent in Robb Davis’ motion which stressed seeking alternatives. This is the collaborative approach which should have been taken before the police made their unilateral decision.

      1. Edgar Wai

        Robb’s action violated collaborative approach. He did not give a chance for the police to propose a plan that could keep the MRAP while addressing the concerns.

        The decision that Robb made was done in the present of opposition (from the police). He skipped a step and imposed an effect disregarding any proposition that the police might make. It is incorrect to call that a collaborative approach when an ultimatum is made before a constructive discussion. In a collaborative approach, the decision comes from the discussion, not before it.

        The decision to acquire the MRAP was not done in the presence of opposition (in my interpretation). The police simply was not aware that it was an issue. This is different from making a decision while knowing that someone is opposing it.

        Do you see the difference?

        o Made a decision assuming that it only concerns the police itself.
        o Made a decision while they did not foresee opposition.

        o Made a decision knowing that there is opposition.
        o Made a decision without asking the opposition for their version of a solution.

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