Militarization of Police: What’s the Harm?

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MRAP
MRAP

COMMENTARY: The most frequently identified defense of the MRAP (mine-resistant ambush protected vehicle) has been that, while the vehicle figures to be used very rarely, if it ends up being used once to save an officer’s life in a live-shooter or other high risk situation, it will have been worth it. While that is certainly a legitimate argument, it makes the assumption that the only downside to the MRAP is mitigated through infrequent, if not unlikely, use.

In the last two days, two pieces have emerged that articulate why this is more of a problem than defenders of the policy might acknowledge.

The Sacramento Bee editorial board today writes an editorial entitled, “A healthy re-evaluation of the militarization of local police.” The editorial comes with a photo of the city of Davis’s MRAP.

“It took two weeks of civil unrest in Missouri, but the nation has started the hard and healthy discussion about the appropriateness of outfitting local law enforcement with military tools,” the Bee writes. “Images of Ferguson police officers clad in military gear and carrying assault rifles when confronting protesters angry after an officer fatally shot 18-year-old Michael Brown in August prompted a national outcry about the militarization of police.”

The Bee notes that the actions of Davis and San Jose, both of which are planning to get rid of their military trucks, together “signal an important shift in the public’s tolerance of militarized local police department for the first time since 9/11.”

They write, “On the eve of the 13th anniversary of that terrible tragedy, it’s a good time for a re-evaluation of whether we want Officer Friendly with a clipboard and pen or a GI Joe with camouflage and riot helmets patrolling our communities and neighborhoods.”

“The police had defended the new tool, saying it could be used to serve warrants on ‘high-risk’ people or if the city had an ‘active shooter’ situation. That’s what authorities call mass shooting incidents like Sandy Hook,” they continue. “Residents were appalled by the idea of a war machine on the streets of peaceful Davis. MRAPs were developed for use in theaters of war in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

The Bee adds, “We hope this gives other cities and police departments the courage to examine their own use of donated military equipment, especially armored trucks.”

“Certainly some police departments can justify the need for a bulletproof troop transport. Los Angeles, Chicago and New York police departments come to mind,” they add. “But probably not more than 600 cities.”

On Tuesday we learned that over a period of three years, Program 1033 has given 624 armored vehicles to local law enforcement agencies across the U.S., including about 12 communities with less than 10 full-time sworn officers.

“In other words,” the Bee writes, “Mayberry PD.”

The Bee never specifically articulates their objection but it appears to come down to what Mayor Pro Tem Robb Davis referred to as “symbolism.” 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.”

A very different take emerges from Phil Locke of the Ohio Innocence Project and Duke Law Wrongful Convictions Clinic, on the website, “The Wrongful Convictions Blog.”

Mr. Locke writes, “According to the latest data from the National Registry of Exonerations, 46% of wrongful convictions have ‘official (including police) misconduct’ as a contributing cause.”

He notes that the state bestows “official” “police powers” to the police and this makes “them very powerful.” He writes that “most police misconduct is manifested in the form of abuse of power, rather than simple error.  In recent years, we have, increasingly, given the police not just ‘police power’ but ‘military power.’”

Mr. Locke references the Lord Acton quote, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

Mr. Locke writes, “Giving military power to police brings them that much closer to absolute power, and that power becomes easier and easier to misuse.  This is compounded by the fact that the police have a demonstrated history of not being good at ‘policing’ themselves, and official police oversight is perfunctory.”

He continues, “Police departments will claim to have ‘internal affairs’ divisions.  I submit this is like having the fox watch the henhouse, and they apparently don’t work, because police misconduct persists, and ‘official misconduct’ continues to contribute to 46% of wrongful convictions.”

Davis has, of course and as we note time and time again, gone through this battle before. In 2006, we had this debate and it was bloody and polarizing, and we emerged from it with a form of police oversight and better police administrative management that have greatly reduced the number of citizen complaints over the years.

But we need to be cautious rather complacent. A number of citizens who spoke two weeks ago noted that, while the current police administration is good, can we be assured that this continues into the future? Moreover, as we saw at UC Davis and indeed in 2006, sometimes the policies of the civilian leaders are the problem, not just the police.

It was only in July we had a councilmember appear to question the need for the police auditor position and, while they eventually supported the renewal of the contract, the discussion surrounding the police is enough to remind us that although we have a good system in place today to protect against abuses, it is neither permanent nor infallible.

Mr. Locke continues, “Everyone has recoiled at what has recently transpired in Ferguson, MO.  A recent NY Times article relates events in Ferguson to the militarization of police:  here.”

He writes, “This all started in 1990 with Section 1208 of the National Defense Authorization Act passed by Congress.  In 1996 Section 1208 was replaced with the Section 1033 DOD program, which is still in place today.  And with the 1033 program in place, the wind down of the Iraq war opened the floodgates of military equipment available to police departments.  See the Newsweek article How America’s Police Became an Army: The 1033 Program.  See also the NY Times article War Gear Flows to Police Departments.  While this was certainly well intentioned, the legislators failed to grasp the psychological impact this would have on the people who would actually be using the equipment.”

Mr. Locke argues that, while military equipment and fire power is scary, “all that stuff is really just an ‘enabler.’” He argues, “What’s really scary is what’s going on in the brains of the cops. They seem to be increasingly adopting a ‘battlefield’ mindset – vanquish the enemy – and giving them MRAP’s and M-16’s substantially reinforces that state of mind. Plus, if the police have all this stuff, of course they’re going to want to use it.”

That may seem over-the-top, and certainly in our community setting it might be. But there was the police officer in Ferguson caught on video threatening to shoot journalists, and then, of course, there was the local pepper spray. (This is an example that comes up because it is local, even though the police agencies were different).

Mr. Locke argues, “We’ve seen the evolution of excessive use of SWAT teams. SWAT teams have been around since the 1960’s, but SWAT teams are now commonly used to perform such routine functions as serving warrants and making simple arrests.”

He notes a recent debate between Radley Balko, Washington Post investigative reporter and author of “Rise of the Warrior Cop,” and Maricopa County (AZ) Attorney Bill Montgomery about the militarization of our domestic police.

During this debate, Mr. Montgomery stated, “These ‘elite’ officers have to stay sharp and on alert. They have to practice.”  Practice by having a SWAT team storm a young mother’s home at 3:00 AM to serve a warrant and make an arrest?  Might I suggest this is “over the top?”

Again, I do not believe that right now in 2014 there is a danger of such misuse from our local Davis police, but we cannot ignore the trend around the country, which is why you are seeing the pushback as articulated by the Sacramento Bee. Davis was just the first, but clearly will not be the last, to return their military vehicles.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

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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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134 thoughts on “Militarization of Police: What’s the Harm?”

  1. Biddlin

    “Again, I do not believe that right now in 2014 these are a danger for our local Davis police, but we cannot ignore the trend around the country..”

    Kevin Hughey can probably find cause for disagreement. As I have stated previously, its symbolic power was the MRAPs biggest weapon. The “police mentality” is them vs us. They don’t like us, don’t trust us, and are willing to kill us.

    A Sketch of the Policeman’s Working Personality
    http://www.thenewamerican.com/usnews/crime/item/17587-militarized-police-the-standing-army-the-founders-warned-about
    http://www.lawenforcer.net/whycops/whycops.htm
    ;>)/

    1. Frankly

      Biddlin my musical friend, I think you are afflicted with a certain dislike of authority. Why don’t you help paint the picture of your ideal society with or without law enforcement?

      It is funny how I think of much of government as being them against us… them having a mentality that they don’t like us, they don’t trust us and they think we are stupid. But can’t say that I agree with your premise that that mindset transfers to law enforcement. I think law enforcement tends to focus a bit too much on that thin blue line of good and bad and sometimes is not blessed with the ability to make that optimum nuanced human decision during an encounter with citizens. But I understand that challenge… the need to make a split-second decision that, if wrong, can end in the officer or other citizens being harmed. No matter how good the training there will always be the potential for sub-optimized split-second decisions.

      But there is a class of citizens that want to hold cops to some level of nuanced perfection and turn anti-cop when it does not happen. And many of this same class of people give their politicians and government officials 100% forgiveness for their mistakes even with them having the advantage of time and thousands of analysts on staff to help ensure an optimized decision.

      I think I need to write a song about this… and I feel it would have to be the blues genre.

      1. Biddlin

        Here’s a tidbit, popular on all the cop fora, but I got it this time from:
        Excerpts from “Why Cops Hate You” (The two I found suitable for all ages)

        “It severely offends and deeply hurts cops when they administer a dose of good old fashioned street justice only to
        have some bleeding heart do-gooder happen upon the scene at the last minute, when the hairbag is at last getting
        his just desserts, and start hollering about police brutality. ”

        “The best thing for civilians to do if they think they see the cops rough up somebody too much is to keep their
        mouths shut at the scene, and to make inquiries of the police brass later on. There might be ample justification for
        the degree of force used that just was apparent at the time of arrest. If not, the brass will be very interested in the
        complaint. If one of their cops went over the deep end, they’ll want to know about it.

        Most of this comes down to common sense, a characteristic the cops feel most civilians lack. One of the elements of
        common sense is thinking before opening one’s yap or taking other action. Just a brief moment of thought will often
        prevent the utterance of something stupid or the commission of some idiotic act that will, among other things,
        generate nothing but contempt from the average street cop.”

        http://www.lawenforcer.net/whycops/whycops.htm

        There are plenty more, from cops all over America.

        They all seem to agree that we are stupid and sufficiently inconvenient to warrant our execution.

        ;>)/

        1. Frankly

          I don’t get the beat. Probably some underground anti-establishment genre that I am not familiar with.

          By the way, I can find people with blustery ignorance in any industry. You need to do a better job providing that there are general problems if you are going to make such general negative claims about the police.

          It would be like me saying that all guitar players are lazy drug users because I know a couple that are.

      1. theotherside

        Yes he was not from Davis. If you do not remember he’s the guy that physically beat his 9 months pregnant wife. Then he grabbed the gun of the officer she called 911 to come rescue her. So yes, to answer your questions, not Davis.

        I think Biddlin’s view is a bit out there. I think the Police like you just as much as anyone else, until it is time to act. To say they are out to kill you is just asinine.

    1. tribeUSA

      Hmmmm–under what circumstances would the police plan to deploy bayonets?

      Possession of such weapons would seem to lend support the ‘paranoid conspiracy theory’ that the police are preparing to contain/quash massive civil unrest (which might occur after an economic crash or other disaster). A bayonet is clearly a military offensive weapon, designed for close quarters deadly combat (also is intimidating to a gunless opponent). How is this appropriate for a police tool? I certainly don’t want to see Davis foot patrols walking the ‘hood with bayonets!

  2. Michelle Millet

    He writes, “Giving military power to police brings them that much closer to absolute power, and that power becomes easier and easier to misuse. This is compounded by the fact that the police have a demonstrated history of not being good at “policing” themselves, and official police oversight is perfunctory. “

    I would agree more with this sentiment if we were giving the police “military” weapons, instead of “military” equipment that protects them from weapons.

    1. Davis Progressive

      how do you know we’re not, yolo county appears to have received quite a few automatic or semiautomatic rifles from the military, how do we know that some of those didn’t go to davis?

      1. Michelle Millet

        My view on whether the police you should get actual weapons from the military is very different from them getting protective equipment from the military.

    2. South of Davis

      Michelle wrote:

      > I would agree more with this sentiment if we were giving the police “military”
      > weapons, instead of “military” equipment that protects them from weapons.

      The cops already have “military” weapons and now they have a “military” vehicle to shoot them out of.

      Unless we are going to get a fleet of MRAPs and have the cops in them 24/7 the MRAP will do little to “protect them from weapons”.

      Just like a sub for Stonegate lake this is nothing but a military “toy” that we don’t need that will suck up money.

  3. BrianRiley429

    That’s a pretty big blunder on the Sacramento Bee’s part where it says (in the photo caption) that the City of Davis is “considering getting rid of” the MRAP. Wrong! The City Council already decided that it must go. It’s just a question of *how* it will be gotten rid of, not whether.

  4. Michelle Millet

    They write, “On the eve of the 13th anniversary of that terrible tragedy, it’s a good time for a re-evaluation of whether we want Officer Friendly with a clipboard and pen or a GI Joe with camouflage and riot helmets patrolling our communities and neighborhoods.”

    I wouldn’t want to send Officer Friendly into a dangerous situation with only a clipboard and pen for protection.

        1. Frankly

          DP cannot answer that from any rational perspective. Because it is spot on. The MRAP is ONLY defensive and protective. That is the fundamental fact that sheds light on the anti-MRAP crowd being anti-cop or anti-law enforcement.

          It is sad, but I think these folks really dislike cops so much that they don’t care if more get injured or killed in the line of duty. In their mind the cops are the real bad guys and everyone ending up in some type of encounter of confrontation with the cops is a victim or potential victim.

          There is probably something psychological going on here… maybe some recoil against figures of absolute authority that has roots in past crucible events.

          But then I was harassed a bit by Davis cops when I was young and had long hair and played in a rock and roll band. I looked like a drug user at that point even though I never touched the stuff. But I understood that looks are something that can cause suspicion in any reasonable person that calculates probability. Sure I was irritated, but I also understood.

          I think what we see here in this anti-MRAP crusade is a big lack of understanding.

          1. Tia Will

            Anon

            ” Fact: the Davis police now have to go into situations involving high-powered weapons without sufficient protection”

            I was with you on your facts until you got to this one. This is not true even per Chief Black’s assessment. When asked about the alternatives to having our own armored vehicle, he stated that one possible option was to share with other communities. You are attempting to frame the issue as “our own MRAP” or nothing which not even the police claim is the case. Your analysis completely ignores whether other alternatives might not leave us with a more nimble, responsive force. The police chief made no presentation of pros/cons, alternatives. He merely stated that he thought it was a good idea. With two years in which to present a compelling case for this as the best alternative this just comes down to “because I say so”. This would never be acceptable if I were requesting to use a highly technical piece of surgical equipment in a new setting for which it was not designed, and it should not be the case for law enforcement.

            I agree with your plea to deal with this on the basis of facts, and believe that we should hold our police to the same standard.

          2. Tia Will

            Frankly

            “It is sad, but I think these folks really dislike cops so much that they don’t care if more get injured or killed in the line of duty”

            Something that I see as sad is your unwillingness to listen to what others who do not share your opinion are actually saying and are willing to make up reasons why their opinion might differ from yours. This postulation on your part is frankly disgusting to say nothing of false.

            I await any factual evidence that this particular piece of equipment, designed to be used in an entirely different situation ( war) has proven useful in a setting such as that we have here in Davis. I guess your point is that facts and evidence matter only when they are presented by the citizens, but that the police just get a free ride to operate on their “opinion” only, unsupported by any evidence.

          3. Alan Miller

            It’s time someone says it: the police need protection at all times and we must invest whatever it takes to make it so. Police cars are outdated and can be penetrated by automatic weapons fire. All Davis police cars need to be replaced with armored vehicles, and I don’t mean tomorrow, I mean now. In addition, police should no longer interact with the public without protective shielding. Therefore, all officers must enter their armored vehicles whenever they depart the fortified police station compound, and make all public contact from within the vehicles. If anyone flees, they will simply be squashed. Furthermore, officers are at risk leaving the police compound and on their way home, so they must either go home in their armored vehicles or be escorted home. Furthermore their families are in danger at all times and all family members must have protection from the Secret Service. This is just common sense. And if you don’t agree, you hate cops.

          4. wdf1

            A.M.: It’s time someone says it: the police need protection at all times and we must invest whatever it takes to make it so…. This is just common sense. And if you don’t agree, you hate cops.

            Maybe there is at least some tentative justification for a MRAP, in part because I don’t want to be accused of hating cops. But this is the same program that is distributing bayonets and grenade launchers. I’m having a hard time understanding how grenade launchers and bayonets would improve my safety or the safety of police officers.

            Bayonets, grenade launchers given to local law enforcement

            …the Woodland Police Department got 15 bayonets and the Sacramento police acquired eight grenade launchers.

            The agencies were given military gear as part of a Department of Defense surplus program known as the 1033 program.

          5. Frankly

            It is time that we reform the police to a modern progressive model. From here on out, all police will ride bikes. Motorized vehicles can be a weapon and are menacing and dangerous. The bikes will also have tassels on the handlebars and playing cards in the spokes to illicit smiles from the citizens. And police will not wear uniforms of any kind… because a uniform is symbolic to warfare and oppression. Police will wear kakis and loud Hawaiian shirts or button down oxford shirts. In the summer they will wear sandals and in the winter they will wear closed-toed casual dress shoes. Boots symbolize warfare and oppression and hence will be disallowed. And no weapons will be carried by police. Weapons worn and brandished by police have been proven to actually cause bad behavior that leads to crime. So, police will only be allowed to carry a clipboard and pen. Lastly, no police officer can shave his head or maintain a buzz-cut. The military has this hair policy and we don’t want out police looking anything like our military. Long hair and dreadlocks will be encouraged because the world likes people with long hair and dreadlocks and considers them more socially acceptable.

          6. Michelle Millet

            Alan: when my kids ride their bikes I make them wear a helmet. Would their head be safer if I made them wear a helmet all the time? Sure. But I believe in reasonable safety precautions. When police are knowingly entering a situation that they have a high risk of being shot at, I’d prefer they enter that situation with appropriate safety precautions.

          7. Alan Miller

            “It is time that we reform the police to a modern progressive model . . . ”

            Frank Lee you will receive the first place trophy for the Alan C. Miller touché snark-upon-snark award for September 2014.

          8. Alan Miller

            “Alan: when my kids ride their bikes I make them wear a helmet.”

            At least you let them ride a bike. I asked a friend what the hell was going on near one of the schools in town when I got stuck in a traffic jam mid-day a couple of different days. I was shocked to learn that the new paradigm is for parents to drive their kids to school, even in Davis. Why? I was told fear of predators was a top reason.

            Which is worse? The very low probability of a predator snatching a kid off a bike in Davis, or the gas burned by the car and the lack of exercise for the kid?

            I remember building dangerous ramps on pavement and the neighborhood kids launching off these, sometimes crashing. I don’t recall anyone in all the years I was in school ever landing on their head.

            With national news feeds we get predators and kids landing on their heads. Are we better for all the precautions? Are we better with mandatory helmets? Civilian MRAPs? Kids being hand-delivered by SUV to school?

  5. Michelle Millet

    “Residents were appalled by the idea of a war machine on the streets of peaceful Davis. MRAPs were developed for use in theaters of war in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    A war machine? If by that the author means a machine that is designed to protect soldiers in war time I guess it is an appropriate name. Is the argument that this machine will over protect our police officers, so we shouldn’t use it?

    The peaceful streets of Davis? Yes for the most part the streets are safe. What are not always so safe are the “scenes” that police officers enter on a daily basis. Unlike the rest of they are putting themselves into potential dangerous situations all the time. If there is equipment that makes them safer when doing so I’d like to see them have access to it.

    1. Davis Progressive

      and how is this vehicle going to change that michelle? they aren’t planning to drive around in the vehicle on a daily basis, so what’s your point?

      1. Michelle Millet

        The Bee editorial paints the picture of this vehicle patrolling our safe streets. Do I think we need it for that? No. If the police are going into a situation where there is a high enough probability that they are going to get shot at, then I would like them to have access to a vehicle that offers them protection.

        1. Tia Will

          Michelle

          “When police are knowingly entering a situation that they have a high risk of being shot at, I’d prefer they enter that situation with appropriate safety precautions.”

          And so would I. So, when Chief Black or his designee provides actual evidence, not just opinion, that this vehicle provides “appropriate safety precautions” for our community that are better than available alternatives, then I would be inclined to
          accept it. Until then, not so much so.

        2. Rich RifkinWDE 73

          When has a cop in Davis ever been shot and that would not have happened had the officer approached the scene inside a MRAP?

          It is not smart to be risk-averse when the levels of risk are very low. Police officers today–like our whole society–is far less willing to take modest physical risks than used to be the case. That is a huge part of the reason so many kids get so little exercise: Their parents are paranoid that their children might get hurt if they go out with other children and play rough games by themselves. Little do those parents realize the high price their children will pay by not risking a few broken bones along the way. Boys, especially, become men by engaging in rough and tumble games.

          Alan Miller noted in this thread that some parents won’t let their kids ride bikes on their own because those parents are worried about the terribly low risk of their child being molested by a stranger. I was told by several people in Davis recently that they won’t let their kids ride their bikes because they are afraid of piles of leaves in the bike lanes, which might cause a kid to fall down. That is why those same folks are pushing this horrible idea of forcing homeowners on side streets with no bike lanes to containerize their lawn clippings.

          What always shocks me is how very rare it is I ever see a group of boys, with no parents hovering over them, playing games that they make up and they organize. When I was a boy in Davis, a day did not go by that every park and empty lot all over town, plus in farm fields along the edges of town, were not covered with kids racing each other on bikes, playing tackle football, boxing, playing tennis or soccer, playing war with pretend guns, etc., etc. Violent crime rates, back then, were much higher then than they are now. However, the difference today is kids are not allowed to play on their own because our society has become averse to all physical risks, even though the result can be overweight and under-exercised children. And even if a kid still gets a good amount of exercise in organized sports, where his parents lord over his every move, not letting kids out to play harms a child in removing the real sense of adventure and self-direction that children need to grow up.

          1. tribeUSA

            Rich–good points, I agree. Seems to me that police policies are getting out of balance; overly cautious policies by police, including increased use of SWAT are leading to more property damage and rude treatment and roughing up of civilians, even non-threatening civilians that are generally cooperative. I’ve noticed a distinct shift in police treatment of civilians comparing “COPs” episodes from about 20 years ago to more recent “COPS” episodes–lots more rough takedowns and rather brutal (as well as rude) treatment of civilians–I think this is justified if the civilian is behaving violently or resisting arrest; but even civilians that are generally cooperative often get this rude/brusque/rough/brutal treatment–even cooperative, normal acting civilians are often treated like dangerous psychotic aniimals. Personal judgement or evaluation of a situation by the cop seems minimal in regard to their manner of arrest; instead they go (according to department policy I’m sure) with a one-size-fits-all policy for rather rough arrest treatment.

          2. Rich RifkinWDE 73

            One other thing which is related to the MRAP story is the acquisition last year of 15 high powered military rifles, M-14s and M-16s, by the Davis Police Department. They don’t NEED those weapons. Those guns fire gigantic cartridges, designed to penetrate through buildings to kill people at a long distance. But if you buy into this, take-every-precaution-possible mentality, no matter how highly unlikely it is to offer any real help to the police mission in Davis, you will favor our cops having these weapons of war, just in case.

            I see this kind of tactic as more of the same risk-aversion. Rather than doing what cops are supposed to do–use intelligence and take some reasonable risks to maintain public order–they will now stand back some 1,000 meters and fire these massive guns, so they are 100% safe from “the bad guys.”

            This is exactly what played out a couple of years ago when the cops in Sacramento killed a carjacker (who was very much a bad guy, no irony intended). They could have run him down on foot as he fled under the Causeway. But they cops would take no chances in a foot chase. So they let him get away, which gave him time to assault two more innocent people and hijack two more cars. When the police finally found him, they stood back hundreds of yards and shot and killed him with an M16. In my opinion, and the opinion of several retired cops I spoke with, everyone would have been better served if the cops would have conducted a foot chase after he jumped 12 feet off the Causeway into the mud. But the 45 cops who saw him running did nothing. They were too afraid of getting hurt jumping into the mud. And the public was stuck for 14 hours as more cops stood around doing nothing “investigating” the scene at the Causeway where he first crashed one of the cars he stole.

  6. Michelle Millet

    . A number of citizens who spoke two weeks ago noted that while the current police administration is good, can we assure that this continues into the future. Moreover, as we saw at UC Davis and indeed in 2006, sometimes, the policies of the civilian leaders are the problem, not just the police.

    So we should deny our current police force, who we trust, access to free equipment that increases their safety because some hypothetical future police force may misuse it?

    1. Tia Will

      Michelle

      You seem to be making a good point about the problems inherent in decision making based on some “hypothetical future” scenario. This is exactly how I feel that the decision to acquire the MRAP in the first place was made.
      The questions that Chief Black should have addressed ( preferably prior to the acquisition, but certainly when called upon to make his formal presentation) were the number of incidents that we have had in Davis in which an armored vehicle would have been needed for the protection of officers. What he gave us were three possible scenarios in which the vehicle “might” have been helpful, and a total of none, comparable to our community in which one had been helpful.

      So I agree with you that decision should not be made based on hypotheticals, either on the part of the citizenry, but equally on the side of the police.

      “And how exactly to you see this piece of protective equipment being misused in a way that puts the public at risk?”

      You and I have had this conversation in person and here in print. Any piece of equipment can be used in both helpful and harmful ways be it a scalpel, or a canister of pepper spray, a weapon, or a piece of equipment designed to protect its occupants.
      This particular piece of equipment has significant potent ion for intimidation. Once occupied by armed individuals, this becomes a very formidable piece of equipment. You are making the assumption that it will only be used exactly as described. And yet I have named at least four situations in our own country in which equipment has been used against citizens in harmful ways for which it was never intended. In each case, there was a scramble to justify what had already occurred based on a chain of mistaken judgements both on the part of civilian leadership and the police charged with carrying out their orders. In each case, their was shock and horror on the part of civilians that “something like this could happen here”.
      Prior to the use of pepper spray on the UCD campus, I am quite sure that most of us would not given much credibility to it happening here. And yet it did. This is fact, not speculation or a hypothetical. Anyone who has talked with me or read my posts here knows that my concern is the potential for the inappropriate use of this vehicle in suppression of legitimate protest as has happened in a number of documented cases in our country.

      I am a strong believer in fact and evidence. If Chief Black had presented instances in which such a vehicle had been useful here in Davis, or giving him a wide berth, even in any other comparable community, I was ready to listen with an open mind. This did not occur. Given that he had two years to present his evidence, I am left thinking that perhaps he did not present it because it does not exist. Once again, I would be completely willing to be proven wrong.

      1. Michelle Millet

        Tia: Should we rid the police of every piece of equipment that they carry that has the potential to be mis-used? And should we start with the ones that offer them protection?

        1. Tia Will

          Michelle

          No. Each piece of equipment should be judged on its own merits. I would guess that Chief Black could make a very strong case for his police having batons, handcuffs and firearms. He made no case at all for the utility of the MRAP in our community. He did not even try to do so. For instance how about starting with the number of times within the past 10 or 20 years when the armored vehicle that we had was essentially in saving the lives of police or civilians ? I would have loved to hear the actual facts.

          1. Michelle Millet

            For instance how about starting with the number of times within the past 10 or 20 years when the armored vehicle that we had was essentially in saving the lives of police or civilians ? I would have loved to hear the actual facts.

            I think it would have been great to have these facts before council voted to return the MRAP.

    2. Jim Frame

      So we should deny our current police force, who we trust, access to free equipment

      I challenge the notion that this equipment is “free.” We have yet to see a competent budget for acquisition and maintenance beyond the $6k transport expense. There are credible reports of civilian conversion cost (which I consider to be part of acquisition) in the $20k to $70 range, and at least one department has returned its MRAP due to exorbitant maintenance and operation costs.

      1. DT Businessman

        Fact and evidence? Open mind? News flash,Tia. You were stridently opposed to the MRAP before Chief Black ever said anything. You went apeshit with the very first VG article on the subject. The written record is quite clear on this point.

        -Michael Bisch

        1. Jim Frame

          My argument is that we do know it’s not “free,” despite efforts of the PD to characterize it as such. What we don’t know — and now may never know — is just how “not free” it is.

  7. realchangz

    Sure seems like a tempest in a teapot. Seems like we have a pretty level-headed police force in Davis.

    Equipment like this isn’t necessarily intended to address the problems we regularly encounter – it is being distributed around the country for incidents which we may not be able to easily imagine today, but which might arise tomorrow.

    ISIS, the junior varsity, for example. Living in the shadow of the leading researchers and designers of GMO’s. Living just down the street from the capitol of the ninth largest nation state in the world which just honored Hollywood’s own, “The Terminator”. Our region could easily become a target of a violent, extremist group which detests our values and wants to make a statement. Don’t think we’re on that list?

    Borders like a porous sieve.

    As they say: “Shit happens”

    If this, relatively inexpensive piece of equipment could help in protecting against these unforeseen threats – anywhere in the Sacramento Region – it doesn’t seem unreasonable for our law enforcement department to be the region’s safekeepers.

    1. Frankly

      Well said.

      I have a life insurance policy that I hope I never have to use. But I have it. And I would be considered irresponsible if I rejected having a life insurance policy. I think our majority CC was irresponsible on the MRAP decision.

      1. Barack Palin

        “I think our majority CC was irresponsible on the MRAP decision.”

        They were irresponsible for their decision and for caving to the local loud liberal activists.

        1. Tia Will

          BP

          Your statement is not factually true, as all three of the votes to dispense with the MRAP were from council members who came to the meeting having already stated their preferences and I believe were waiting, as was I , for some compelling data from Chief Black that would outweigh their objections. They did not receive any such information and thus I believe from personal communications with all three, decided to carry out their initial intent.

          To me the epitome of responsible decision making is to formulate your opinion based on the facts available, your own values and beliefs while maintaining an open mind so that if at the end of the information gathering, nothing is presented to contradict your view, you will then vote according to the best information available. This is what I believe that all the council members did. Three saws no compelling reason to change their opinions, two wanted more time for further discussion. I believe that all acted responsibly. Some of us were pleased with the outcome, some not. This does not make either side irresponsible and I cannot consider it “caving” just because the majority happens to hold the same position at which you have arrived.

      2. Tia Will

        Frankly

        I will be so bold as to postulate that your life insurance policy could never be used to transport highly armed individuals into a situation that they might or might not completely grasp the true danger and might or might not appreciate that the only truly dangerous force in play was themselves.

        This for me was the crux of the issue at the time of the UCD pepper spraying. A militarized force was sent forth to clear a few students tents because of the fear ( completely unsubstantiated) that someone might rape a student. So the UCD police themselves caused actual harm in a futile attempt to prevent hypothetical harm. But of course, that couldn’t happen “here” !

        1. Frankly

          used to transport highly armed individuals into a situation that they might or might not completely grasp the true danger and might or might not appreciate that the only truly dangerous force in play was themselves.

          Tia – with all due respect, I have to ask if you really read and think about what you write. It does not make any sense to me.

          Related to this comment please explain the different between the MRAP and a standard police vehicle.

          1. Tia Will

            Frankly

            I am always happy to explain when unclear.

            The recent pepper spraying incident happened because of failures of the civilian leadership to accurately assess the “dangers” of the situation into which they were sending the police. The police either did not corroborate the information provided to them by the civilian leadership ( perhaps they did not see that as their job ) but instead acted as though they were moving into a truly dangerous situation, when in fact, the worst action against the police was shouting a few obnoxious phrases which were rapidly quelled by the protest leaders. There was no danger to the police. They were the only dangerous individuals on the quad that day.

            Now, I know from hours and hours of watching the clips from a variety of angles, that the Davis police were not directly involved in the use of excessive force, but it also appears from the tapes that they did nothing active to prevent it either. I believe that this was a mistake in the assessment of the degree of danger and in the assessment of what type of response was indicted. If it could happen at UCD and in Seattle, by the police chief’s own assessment, do you really think that it could not happen here ?

          2. Matt Williams

            If it could happen at UCD and in Seattle, by the police chief’s own assessment, do you really think that it could not happen here ?

            What I hear you saying in the above question Tia is that the only measurement criteria that is satisfactory is perfection. Since we are dealing with human beings, who make human judgments and human errors, there is 100% chance that “it could happen here” and therefore, based on those criteria the decision is preordained. However, the death of a policeman as a result of weapons fire also “could happen.” That leaves us as a society to weigh which is a more powerful argument “could happen #1” or “could happen #2.”

            In many problem solving analyses one of the steps in looking at various possible scenarios is a “fatal flaw analysis.” It this case it may be an apt term.

          3. Frankly

            Tia – You are still not addressing the question. If your problem is the risk of bad judgment by the police (and I won’t even get into the fact that your assessment of what is good or bad judgment is likely different than is police best-practices in many instances), then again, what is the difference between a patrol car carrying police to the scene of some incident or an MRAP?

            Can you do the delta analysis? With MRAP or without MRAP… you commented that your problem was that the MRAP could transport highly armed individuals into a situation that they might or might not completely grasp the true danger and might or might not appreciate that the only truly dangerous force in play was themselves.

            But then if not the MRAP, it will be something else doing the same. The rejection of the MRAP does not change the fact that some vehicle will transport armed police to the scene of some conflict or crime that the police believe is justified.

            Let me help you out. I only see two differences.

            1. The MRAP keeps the police being transported safer, and it also provides more potential utility to save citizens in harm’s way.

            2. It symbolizes military and war to some people.

            Anything else?

            And if you don’t have anything else, then we get back to the point that we allowed our hypersensitivity over symbolism to cause us to make a decision that means less potential protection for police and citizens.

  8. Davis Progressive

    “Seems like we have a pretty level-headed police force in Davis.”

    i used to practice law in yolo and that hasn’t always been the case. saw some crazy police work coming out of davis.

  9. Frankly

    I take great offense to the term “militarization of police”.
    [edit — contact the moderator or the blog owner if you have concerns about moderation actions or policies on the Vanguard. — Don]

    At this time in US history, as in other times in US history, the population is war-wary. “Militarization” has a profound negative connotation because we are all sick of it. In our American Idol don’t-worry-be-happy pop culture, there is a strong pull to rid ourselves of all the downers… and war is probably the biggest downer of humanity. But even though we are all sick of war and want to rid ourselves of the symbolism of war, it is highly inappropriate, especially at this time in our war-weary history, to label police as being war-like. It is in fact a highly inflammatory label. And it is clearly meant to promote the anti-law enforcement agenda by painting the police as something they are not.

    The police are no more war-like than they were 50-years ago.

    So, the term “militarization of police” is in fact a lie, propaganda, a pejorative term against a specific class of people. It is meant to be provocative and inflame. It comes from a certain heat of anger and frustration from those more prone to distrust or dislike the police.

    If the police have in fact become more militarized, then the burden of proof for the use of that label falls on those using it. And since it cannot be proven that the police have become any more militarized over the last 50+ years, the term should not be used.

    The MRAP is not a tank. The police are not militarized or becoming militarized. The police are tasked to do a job. And that job requires certain tools, training and protocol. How about focusing on the tools, training and protocol and stop using terms that are just meant to demean one group at the glee of another?

      1. Frankly

        You mean the liberal mainstream press that is infested with people owning a dislike of law enforcement?

        So based on this point I should be able to use any label as long as I can connected it to other publications?

      2. Matt Williams

        DP, that sounds like Barack Palin’s argument about global warming. Given the overwhelming effect of (other countries on global warming) or (the new york times, newsweek, time, radley balko’s use of the term “militarization of police”), we should simply not try and do anything about that here in Davis because our efforts will go unnoticed on the world-wide/national stage. Those two arguments appear equivalent to me.

        If we are going to be fair and balanced, shouldn’t we also be having a discussion about the militarization of the criminal element?

          1. Matt Williams

            Don’t remember what BP? If it is the quote to which I referenced here is one example:

            Not that we can’t do a lot to make Davis a better place by driving less, not smoking recycling planting trees growing our own food and lots of other stuff, but despite what many smug Hybrid drivers may think when they trade in their car for an even greener PEV (so they can be even more smug) it will have no measurable effect on the GLOBAL climate…

            I’m reasonably sure that John read whatever you are referring to as well. I can speak for John because the legal prohibition on seeing the name Matt Williams in public has expired, but you are going to have to find out from Peabody whether she read the something that you are referring to. I can’t speak for her.

        1. Frankly

          Matt – I don’t think you can use the term “criminal element”, because that de-humanizes those people that just make mistakes in life, or that have some mental or psychological challenges.

          1. Matt Williams

            I debated about what term to use. I thought about “gangs” but that was castng too narrow a net. I thought about “criminals” but I doubted that many free-lance criminals are militarized because of their singular nature. I thought about “organized crime” but that had a theatrical ring to it. In the end I settled for “criminal element.”

          2. Frankly

            Maybe you should have written “people with misfortunes in life that have led them to engage in activity that our legal system defines as unlawful.” That would seem to prevent any hypertensive reaction.

    1. Tia Will

      Frankly

      You object to the use of the term militarization of the police.

      My question for you then is if you disagree with the assessment of then Police Chief Stambler of Seattle whose assessment of his own departments over reaction under his command as having been the cause of needless escalation of violent actions during what previously had been a peaceful protest at the WTO ? Do you feel that their arrival in full military gear did not lead to escalation and feel that he was incorrect in his assessment ?

      1. Matt Williams

        Tia, whether the police arrived in “full military gear” or simply their “daily blues” wasn’t what escalated the situation in Seattle. What escalated it was the decision to move the peaceful protesters from the piece of Seattle real estate that they were occupying. Once that die was cast, how do you think the clothing that the police were wearing escalated things further?

        1. Tia Will

          Matt

          I think that appearance certainly does matter. So do the police at least if you believe their characterizations of gang members at the Citizen’s Academy. One of the major identifiers that they cite is the wearing of “colors” and certain articles of clothing to distinguish themselves from the general population and members of other gangs.

          Clothing makes a huge difference in multiple areas of our lives identifying us as part of a group or an outsider. Anyone that has ever turned up at a black tie event “under dressed” knows exactly what i mean.

          Yes, I do believe what the police wear and carry with them into the situation of a protest will make a huge difference to the response of the group. As a matter of fact, I know it does having been at a number of protests in the days of my youth.

          The police that showed up in a non intimidating way politely asking ( rather than ordering ) people to clear certain areas for safety reasons almost invariably got a positive response. Not so much so when a face shielded officer looking more like a storm trooper than a police officer starts barking commands and brandishing weapons. If you need direct evidence of the difference, play back some of the clips from the pepper spraying incident and watch the difference in the response of the students to Police Officer Pytel from the response to Sgt. Pike. I think that is a very eloquent ( a picture is worth a thousand words) illustration of what a difference in appearance and style of communication can make.

          1. tribeUSA

            Tia–well said, I agree. The clothes/trappings that a public figure of authority wears–particularly an enforcement official–definitely sends a message.

          2. Matt Williams

            Tribe, if the order of the day is to conduct an “asking” dialogue, I agree with you wholeheartedly. However, if the dialogue has progressed beyond the “asking” stage because the protesters have stated by their actions that they have no intention to do what they have been (repeatedly) “asked” to do, what is the next step you propose, and what clothes do you think are appropriate for that next step?

            In the Spring of 1969 I was one of approximately 2,000 Cornell students who occupied Barton Hall, which served double duty as Cornell’s basketball arena and the National Guard Armory (and ROTC barracks). We were very politely “asked” to end the occupation many times. Each time our answer was the same … “Hell no, we won’t go.” Cornell (and the National Guard) leaders chose not to escalate the situation to the “removal/dispersal” stage, but that does not change the fact that the 2,000 occupiers had made it crystal clear that continued “asking” was not going to achieve the result desired by the university, state and national leaders who were tasked with ending the incident.

          3. Matt Williams

            Tia, you appear to be painting with a one size fits all brush. I find it very hard to believe that the Seattle police had not already politely asked the WTO protesters to disperse and go home. I find it very hard to believe that UCD officials had not already politely asked the UCD protesters to disperse and go home.

            Imagine that you are the commander of the police personnel who have been tasked with the (escalated) task of moving beyond “the asking steps” to the physical removal step. Are you saying that you as that commander are going to send those personnel out to complete their assigned removal task in street clothes?

            Further, you gang colors example is meaningless because almost all police personnel wear “colors” at all times. Citizens have no problem identifying police personnel as police personnel because of those colors. Undercover/plainclothes officers being the exception.

            So, my original point still stands. The escalation in Seattle came when the decision was made that “asking” had not resulted in a decision by the protesters to disperse and go home, and that “removal” was the order of the day.

  10. Anon

    Blah, blah, blah… it is all about the symbolism… blah, blah, blah. Fact: the MRAP is an armored truck to protect officers and potential victims from being shot. The MRAP is not mounted with any guns or cannons, so is not a tank or military weapon. Fact: the current Davis police no longer have a working armored vehicle. Fact: the Davis police now have to go into situations involving high-powered weapons without sufficient protection – a Kevlar vest nor a police car will stop a bullet shot from a high-powered weapon. Conclusion: three members of the City Council have declared symbolism more important than a policeman’s life, unless the City Council agrees to purchase a new politically correct armored vehicle at a cost of $250,000 or more with funds the city does not have, when it could have had a free armored vehicle. Sorry, I cannot see any sense to the decision to get rid of the MRAP.

    Secondly, if you don’t want the police getting out of hand, then set boundaries. Prosecute officers who cross those boundaries. I would venture to say police getting out of line rarely has to do with MRAPs, and more to do with simple traffic stops, what goes on inside police stations, testilying in the courtrooms, task forces wandering the streets looking for offenders, etc.

    1. Tia Will

      Anon

      ” Fact: the Davis police now have to go into situations involving high-powered weapons without sufficient protection”

      I was with you on your facts until you got to this one. This is not true even per Chief Black’s assessment. When asked about the alternatives to having our own armored vehicle, he stated that one possible option was to share with other communities. You are attempting to frame the issue as “our own MRAP” or nothing which not even the police claim is the case. Your analysis completely ignores whether other alternatives might not leave us with a more nimble, responsive force. The police chief made no presentation of pros/cons, alternatives. He merely stated that he thought it was a good idea. With two years in which to present a compelling case for this as the best alternative this just comes down to “because I say so”. This would never be acceptable if I were requesting to use a highly technical piece of surgical equipment in a new setting for which it was not designed, and it should not be the case for law enforcement.

      I agree with your plea to deal with this on the basis of facts, and believe that we should hold our police to the same standard.

      1. Anon

        Chief Black made it very clear that deployment of the MRAP is necessary within the first hour of a crisis involving a high-powered weapon. He also made it clear that a Kevlar vest nor a police car will stop a bullet from a high-powered weapon. I consider those FACTS upon which it is reasonable to deduce the police are going to have to go into a situation involving a high-powered weapon without sufficient protection.

        1. Tia Will

          Anon

          In that case, perhaps Chief Black should be making a case for having more than one MRAP. After all, what if there are simultaneous situations in several areas of Davis each requiring its own MRAP. Let’s say one at the Marketplace and another in South Davis. Without actual numbers about how many times such events are happening in Davis, how would we know that one is the optimal number.

          Please note that what I am seeking is actual evidence not extrapolation from what might happen under some theoretically possible scenario. Had Chief Black presented such evidence instead of speculative hypotheticals, I would have been very amenable to listening. He , having two years in which to build a solid case, chose not to do so. I cannot imagine why not, unless there is no supporting evidence.

    2. South of Davis

      Anon wrote:

      > Fact: the Davis police now have to go into situations involving high-powered
      > weapons without sufficient protection

      Can you give us the dates of some of these “situations” you talk about where the Davis police have risked their lives driving up to shooters with “high-powered weapons”?

      1. Anon

        ??? At the City Council meeting, Chief Black showed pictures (rather than actually brought the actual weapons in so as not to shock everyone’s sensibilities) of all the high-powered weapons confiscated from criminals. He gave a specific recent example of a UCD suicidal student who was driving around in his car with a high-powered weapon, in which the police had to take the weapon from the student before he killed himself or someone else. Chief Black also gave other examples … please review the footage of City Council meeting video.

        1. Jim Frame

          He gave a specific recent example of a UCD suicidal student who was driving around in his car with a high-powered weapon, in which the police had to take the weapon from the student before he killed himself or someone else.

          A situation in which an MRAP would have been of no practical value, by the way. For police purposes, an MRAP is a siege machine, not a chase-and-apprehend vehicle.

        2. Tia Will

          Anon

          I was at the meeting. Chief Black presented only pictures of weapons that had been confiscated without the use of the MRAP and presented no evidence of how the MRAP or any other armored vehicle would have facilitated any of these confiscations.
          That was the evidence that I was looking for. Scary pictures is not evidence in my opinion. There are many truly dangerous situations up to and including the life threatening that can occur in even what starts as a routine surgery. What my patient’s expect from me is a realistic portrayal of how likely these events are, how many have I encountered in my career and under what circumstances and what mitigating steps would be taken in the unlikely event of a catastrophic complication.. I have never had a patient swayed by a picture of an adverse outcome without some discussion of whether or not that actually applied to her.

  11. Nancy Price

    Has anyone thought to ask whether this armored vehicle is made with metal that contains depleted uranium as many used in the Iraq War did? If this is a “used,”or were even a brand new military vehicle, the metal just might contain highly toxic DU.

    1. Anon

      I am at a loss here. MRAPs are designed to protect against depleted uranium explosives (IEDs). It is the IEDs that are made our of depleted uranium, not the MRAPs!

      1. Frankly

        Maybe the fear is that a depleted uranium projectile would bounce off the MRAP instead of lodging itself into another lesser vehicle… thereby imperiling citizens with possible exposure.

        1. Anon

          NP seemed to think the MRAP was “made with metal that contains depleted uranium”! Wonder where in the world she got that idea from? That is why I asked her if she had a source she could send me to.

      2. Jim Frame

        depleted uranium explosives (IEDs)

        Um, no. Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) are manufactured on a cottage-industry basis, and typically contain a hand-formed copper projectile backed by whatever explosive material can be cobbled together by the guy working in a garage somewhere. Though they can be extremely effective at penetrating armor — even MRAP armor — when properly constructed and deployed, the folks who manufacture them wouldn’t know what DU looks like, let alone have access to it.

        1. Jim Frame

          Actually, the kind of IED I described is only one type — a shaped-charge device — and is probably the most sophisticated of the IEDs. Any home-made land mine also qualifies as an IED, but they don’t pose much threat to MRAP armor. Shaped-charge devices can go through just about anything if properly designed, built and deployed, and the level of expertise and equipment necessary to make one is surprisingly low.

  12. DavisBurns

    Police and fire prevention dangerous? Not really. From Forbes

    The 10 Deadliest Jobs:

    1. Logging workers
    2. Fishers and related fishing workers
    3. Aircraft pilot and flight engineers
    4. Roofers
    5. Structural iron and steel workers
    6. Refuse and recyclable material collectors
    7. Electrical power-line installers and repairers
    8. Drivers/sales workers and truck drivers
    9. Farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers
    10. Construction laborers

    You want to protect workers at high risk? Give the garbage collectors and construction workers and road workers early retirement at full pensions and not police and fire.

    1. Frankly

      The problem with this list is that it does not count duty-patrol officers, it counts all police personnel. And it does not count combat soldiers, it counts all military personnel.

      We are talking about a tool to protect both duty-patrol officers, and combat military personnel. And for these two groups, the risk of significant injury or death is at the top of the list. Combat military personnel are at the top of the list.

      1. Biddlin

        I think you are wrong about that, but, “They also serve, who only stand and wait.” Besides, taxicab drivers are eight times as likely to be murdered on the job as a cop. The greater “dangers” of police work are divorce and coronary disease. I think you’re a victim of the “Blue Kool-Aid.”
        ;>)/

      2. tribeUSA

        Frankly–yes, I imagine it’s true that the job of an inner-city police patrolmen would rank near the top of the dangerous list; but likely not a Davis patrolman. I wonder what the difference is in their work health/disability/life insurance premiums?

    2. tribeUSA

      Re: danger list–I thought tree-trimmers were somewhere near the top of the list–maybe they are lumped in with loggers (hopefully the job descriptions don’t get too similar in Davis, as many trees start to dry up and die due to lack of watering).

    3. Edgar Wai

      For this list, I think there is nothing stopping the worker to increase their own protection if they wanted. For example, for tree logging, if there is a convenient method that a falling tree would not hurt anyone, the workers would have wanted to use that method. From what I understand, a tree logger would not use more protection than what they use now because of:

      1. The worker himself finds it is too hot or too inconvenient to use additional protection.
      2. The worker himself finds it uncool to use additional protection
      3. Additional safety measures hurt productivity, and the worker wants to be more productive.
      4. The safety measure would reduce the number of workers employed, the workers themselves don’t want that to happen.

      Mainly it is the worker himself who does not want to use protection. If the logging company forces the worker not to use certain protection, the workers union would fight back.

      When the city denies the police the MRAP, it is like the logging company telling the logger workers that they cannot get the protection they want. Such dynamic is very different from the workers deciding themselves that not to use additional protection. The reason of the denial needs to be enough substance to override the workers’ ethical right to protect themselves.

      The person making the decision to deny has a moral obligation to justify the denial.

  13. Anon

    To Tia, Nancy and Alan: MRAPs are made to deflect depleted uranium explosives (IEDs). It is the IEDs that are made out of depleted uranium, not the MRAPs – unless you can show research to the contrary.

    1. Biddlin

      http://www.au.af.mil/au/awc/awcgate/dod/du_factsheet_4aug98.htm

      FROM THE USAF: DEPLETED URANIUM FACT SHEET

      What is depleted uranium?

      Depleted uranium is what is left over when most of the highly radioactive types (isotopes) of uranium are removed for use as nuclear fuel or nuclear weapons. The depleted uranium used in armor-piercing munitions and in enhanced armor protection for some Abrams tanks is also used in civilian industry, primarily for stabilizers in airplanes and boats.
      I believe that MRAPs are normally armored by ballistic glass.
      ;>)/

    2. Jim Frame

      Again, DU isn’t IED material. As far as I know, it’s only available in commercially-manufactured ammunition. A shaped-charge IED doesn’t need DU to go through vehicle armor; copper does the job nicely, is widely available and very easy to work.

        1. Jim Frame

          I’m surprised to learn that it’s available for common commercial use; I would have thought that its hazardous properties would have kept it more tightly regulated. I note that it does have application in explosively-formed penetrators (EFPs), but these would be commercially-manufactured, as opposed to improvised, munitions.

          My understanding is that, in both Iraq and Afghanistan, the irregular forces deploying IEDs against organized armies use copper for their EFP lenses, because it’s readily available and has working properties familiar to any metalsmith. I doubt they’d know how to come by DU, nor bother to try, since copper works just fine at penetrating armor when correctly formed and launched.

    3. Alan Miller

      “It is the IEDs that are made out of depleted uranium, not the MRAPs – unless you can show research to the contrary.”

      Never said they were A-Non. I suggested a Geiger counter might put this ludicrous claim to rest.

  14. Tia Will

    Frankly

    “1. The MRAP keeps the police being transported safer, and it also provides more potential utility to save citizens in harm’s way.

    2. It symbolizes military and war to some people.

    Yes, I do have something else. Familiarity and acceptance. Familiarity is something that we definitely have with partrol cars on our streets. Some people are comforted and feel safer when they see one. Some people feel like the police are just waiting for them to do something wrong even if they have done nothing. What we all share is the familiarity with their presence. This definitely does not apply to the presence of the MRAP. This applies equally to the police who have not been trained in its appropriate use and if the pepper spray incident as one example, might or might not all be trained appropriately at the time of its deployment. Again, just one example, but a real documented case, not a hypothetical situation.

    Acceptance. I see this as a major factor. The job of the police is to protect the community and as part of the community, that should of course include themselves. This should be done in a way that is most suitable and acceptable to both the police and the community However, a scary scenario does not equate in my mind to any given solution as the only way to go. For example, there have been a recent number of “Amber alerts” in California. We know that some children do indeed get kidnapped. Does that mean that the parent who allows their child to walk or ride their bike to school doesn’t care whether or not their child is kidnapped or doesn’t love their child knowing that the chances of an abduction are less if the child is under continues adult supervision. Of course not, but that is the kind of reasoning that you chose to use in earlier posts.

    I simply cannot understand the stubborn unwillingness to consider that actual facts would go a long way to persuade people that perhaps this would have been a useful or even reasonable “tool” for our police to have.
    None were forth coming. That to me is a major, telling point. If there is evidence of its usefulness in a situation such as ours, surely it would be have been worth presenting for consideration.

      1. Tia Will

        What fact do you feel was given that would demonstrate that the MRAP would have proven effective in either the collection of weapons that Chief Black presented or that it would have proven effective in any of the 3 scenarios he described. Would heard him say repeatedly might be , and could be.

        What he did not say is “has been proven to be” in x,y or z incident. Nor did he say it would take the place of our okd armored vehichle which has saved lives in x, y and z incidents.
        Those would have been facts.

        What facts did you hear that I clearly did not ?

        1. Tia Will

          BP

          “I really don’t think it mattered what facts were shown as our local activists already had their minds made up.”

          Our local activists may have had their minds made up, but I strongly believe that our city council members ( the only ones who count) would have been open to a full accounting of the facts. They were not presented with one. Can you think of a logical reason why the police with two years to prepare, could not have come up with a strong case if one exists ?

      1. Matt Williams

        Anon, I think Barack Palin’s comment that “I totally agree, you have some who will overlook the 999 (sic) good things cops do and just focus on the 1 in a 1,000 incident to attempt to make a point” applies to your comment as well. With respect to safety, and especially the safety of our children, we focus on the 1 and not the 999. I believe Davis is just as safe for our children walking to school in 2014 as it was in 2004 and 1994. The difference is that in our electronically enhanced culture we are presented with “news” about events that we never used to hear about. They existed, but they never reached the level of our awareness. The anchors on each network and cable channel begin the evening news with “Good Evening,” and then proceed to tell us why it isn’t.

        1. Davis Progressive

          i caution the 999 good things/ 1 bad thing line. there are people who live a good life and commit a single horrific act and we don’t general excuse that. there is a public trust and political power issue that play a huge role in protecting against the abuse of police actions.

          1. Matt Williams

            I agree DP, but where is the boundary? if it is not 999 / 1, is it 9,999 / 1, or would you prefer 99,999 / 1. What are your criteria for determining you have reached the point where enough precaution is enough?

          2. Davis Progressive

            that other side to that is that there are always unforseable risks in life, we can never get it down to zero, so we have to weigh the risk of having the vehicle versus not having the vehicle. i think the risk is greater having the vehicle since it’s not clear there has ever been a time when we have needed it.

          3. Matt Williams

            Understood, and don’t get me wrong, I believe Davis does not need its own MRAP, but the discussion had evolved from an MRAP-specific level to a “militarization of the police” level, with things like flak jackets and helmets with plexiglas shields and other riot gear parerphernalia being the core issue of the ongoing discussion, as well as the Seattle Police Chief’s comments about escalation at the WTO confrontation.

            Part of the problem is that both sides of this discussion are approaching their analysis from a worst case perspective. For the one side the worst case is the loss of the life of one of our police personnel. On the other side the worst case is the abuse of the incremental power by the police. Both sides are using the word “could” as a central component of their arguments.

  15. tribeUSA

    Good article post. Seems to me the police in most small communities are currently not inappropriately militarized; but it definitely has crept into big cities, and there does seem to be a trend initiating recently of some militarization–i.e. even though the current situation is not so bad, there is reason for legitimate concern about recent trends–we don’t want to gradually start militarizing the police over the next 20 years or so, and it seems prudent to scrutinize any steps that are taken that might be leading in that direction ( we don’t want to be like the frogs in that gradually warming pot of water on the oven…).

  16. Edgar Wai

    The decision requirement is different for a person trying to protect himself and a person trying to deny others from protecting themselves.

    As far as the decision goes, the person does not need to show evidence that the protection is effective. The protection could be an amulet that has no measurable effect other than the faith or confidence that the object gives the person. To deny the person from equipping the protection, the argument needs to be based on the damage that the protection would cause to others. The burden of proof is on the opposition to make a claim that the protection is more dangerous to have than not have. (In a constructive discussion, the two sides are not antagonistic. The side that wants the protection would take initiative to address the concerns because they care about not hurting others from their decisions.)

    Burden of proof is not always assigned to whoever that wants to make a change, just as people do not have equal ethical rights to make each possible decision. The scientific process does not apply directly to this kind of decision making.

    1. Tia Will

      Edgar

      “The decision requirement is different for a person trying to protect himself and a person trying to deny others from protecting themselves.

      As far as the decision goes, the person does not need to show evidence that the protection is effective. ”

      I agree that the decision requirement is different for a person trying to protect himself……”

      And this is where we part company. No one is trying to deny others from protecting themselves. Everyone wants the police to be safe.

      What your analysis is missing is a couple of points.

      1. If the person is only charged with protecting himself, I agree it is his right to do that in any way he sees fit. However, this is not the case with the police who are also charged with protecting the public. And they are doing so at a cost to the public provided by tax dollars. Therefore, the public, by your own reasoning, has a right to a say in the methods that they are choosing or at least the elected leaders have this right.

      2. Since it is the citizens safety ( as well as the police) that is at stake, we have the right to a full accounting of why they believe that this is the best way to achieve that safety and this is what has been lacking in the conversation. The police have not put forth any assessment of cost to maintain, cost to train, cost in terms of not being able to apply these funds to other alternatives that in fact might improve safety for all involved.

      3. As for “burden of proof” I have presented three cases ( Kent State, Seattle WTO protests, UCD campus pepper spraying) in which excessive response on the part of the authorities led to material harm, in the first case lethal, to either peaceful demonstrators or bystanders. There are a number of other cases with applicability to possible judgement errors on the part of authorities in which poor outcomes were achieved when perhaps other means would have led to less harm ( Waco – with loss of children’s lives, Ruby Ridge, the bombing of the MOVE house in Philadelphia also resulting in the loss of children’s lives. I am not pointing out these instances to indicate that I think they would happen here, but to agree with the police to the degree that dangerous and unforeseen situations can arise anywhere ( urban or rural). The question then becomes, since we know that events like these can happen, and we know that misjudgments about the degree of danger can occur, is the MRAP really the best way to provide the protection that would best serve both the citizenry and the police. We don;t know, because they have not offered evidence.

      4. Finally your assessment misses one more differentiating point. There is a power differential between the police and the unarmed citizenry. When you are talking about right to defend oneself, the police by the nature of their ability to carry and use weapons at their own discretion have much more power than the law abiding citizen. Allowing the police a carte blanche in what methods to use may or may not better protect them or us. We simple don’t know because we have not been provided with any evidence, only opinion. You appear to be supporting a “don’t worry, just trust us” that this is the best way attitude. I hope that you would not be so trusting ( or some would say naive) as to not obtain at least a second opinion before allowing a surgeon whose only explanation to you was “don’t worry, I’ve never worked with this piece of equipment before, nor do I have any evidence that it has ever been effective in cases like yours, but I am sure that it might come in handy which is essentially what Chief Black has presented to date.

          1. Matt Williams

            But in effect you are applying Frank Rizzo standards to Landy by bringing up the MOVE example. I think your comment to Anon about the extremes at either end of the spectrum is very apt in the discussions about how our society interacts with its police personnel. Balance and respect for the values and perspectives of others.

  17. theotherside

    ” if it ends up being used once to save an officer’s life in a live-shooter or other high risk situation, it will have been worth it. ”

    I’m good with that.

    “Images of Ferguson police officers clad in military gear and carrying assault rifles when confronting protesters”

    Several of those protesters were armed with handguns and Molotov cocktails. Many shots were fired from the crowd and incendiary devices thrown. The media’s attention was focused on the Police so of course this is not widely known.

    “Certainly some police departments can justify the need for a bulletproof troop transport. Los Angeles, Chicago and New York police departments come to mind,” they add. “But probably not more than 600 cities.”

    Columbine, CO, Sandy Hook, CT, Aurora, CO, Stockton, CA, Tucson, AZ, Ceres, CA ………..

    “We’ve seen the evolution of excessive use of SWAT teams. SWAT teams have been around since the 1960’s, but SWAT teams are now commonly used to perform such routine functions as serving warrants and making simple arrests.”

    Not routine!!!! It is never routine. And to clarify, these resources are used in high risk situations. Their definition of high risk may be different than yours, but that doesn’t make it any more safe for Police.

  18. Tia Will

    Matt

    “So, my original point still stands. The escalation in Seattle came when the decision was made that “asking” had not resulted in a decision by the protesters to disperse and go home, and that “removal” was the order of the day.”

    Here we have an agree to disagree situation. The assessment of needless escalation of force in Seattle with resultant escalation of hostilities was not mine, but rather the assessment of the police chief in charge at the time. He was the one that stated that the force under his command became instigators, not peacekeepers. If you choose to disagree with Police Chief Stambler, that’s fine, I just feel that he probably is the one with the greatest insight into what actually happened in Seattle.

    In the instance on the UCD quad, of course you are correct that they protesters were asked “politely to leave” if you consider requests coming from someone needlessly in riot gear as “polite”. I have no quarrel with this statement.
    What I do think is indicative of the police mind set is that first they showed up in riot gear ( needlessly). But I’ll even spot you that although I perceive it as counter productive.

    The other point that you are not addressing is what Sgt.Pike then chose to do after the students did not clear the path. Instead of responding to the completely appropriate question from one of the young man to inform him of what law he was breaking, Sgt. Pike chose to up the ante by ignoring the question and making threats which he then chose to fulfill using inappropriate gear on which he had not been trained. Appropriate police action. I did not think so, and neither did the court. I think it is wishful thinking to believe that such an event could not happen again, just as I believe that it would be wishful thinking to believe that our police could never be at risk.

    The key for me is what is the evidence that any particular major acquisition is the “best” way available to defend anyone, be it police or civilian. I do not believe that we have been presented with such evidence.

    1. Matt Williams

      In the instance on the UCD quad, of course you are correct that they protesters were asked “politely to leave” if you consider requests coming from someone needlessly in riot gear as “polite”. I have no quarrel with this statement. What I do think is indicative of the police mind set is that first they showed up in riot gear ( needlessly). But I’ll even spot you that although I perceive it as counter productive.

      Your statement above ignores all the times when the protesters were asked “politely to leave” prior to the decision to disperse and go home. I suspect, but do not know, that those initial “polite asks” were delivered by UCD officials in suits, dresses, skirts, and/or uniforms. The first of those “asks” probably too place 24 hours prior to the arrival of any police personnel in riot gear.

      I don’t think Sgt. Pike’s actions were proper police procedure either; however, the question asked by the young man was not asked in order to cause the dispersal to happen in an orderly way, it was designed to cause the dispersal not to happen at all … or to escalate the theatrical production that was playing out real-time on the UCD stage.

      I think it is wishful thinking to believe that such an event could not happen again, just as I believe that it would be wishful thinking to believe that our police could never be at risk. I agree, so we find ourselves balancing the fact that there could be loss of life with the fact that there could be such an event again. Which carries more weight?

      The problem we all have with the issues associated with your final paragraph is that we have to get in our time machines and go back to 2009 when the Council weighed the evidence presented befor authorizing participation in the program that ultimately resulted in the MRAP becoming a Davis resident.

  19. Tia Will

    Matt

    “But in effect you are applying Frank Rizzo standards to Landy by bringing up the MOVE example. I think your comment to Anon about the extremes at either end of the spectrum is very apt in the discussions about how our society interacts with its police personnel. Balance and respect for the values and perspectives of others.”

    No, I am not applying Frank Rizzo standards to Landy……that is how you are choosing to interpret my comment even after I explicitly and unequivocally said that I was not. I clearly said that I was only giving examples of how the misperceptions and faiilure to consider other options had led to material harm to innocents. That is all I said.
    You have decided to try to portray my comments as a false equivalency that I was not making.

    “Balance and respect for the values and perspectives of others.”

    On this point we are in agreement. And I would have thought that a very good place for this to start would have been respect on the part of the police for the citizens of Davis and the Davis elected leadership at least enough to present their case and get input prior to acquiring the MRAP.

    1. Matt Williams

      MOVE is such an incendiary and extreme example. If you didn’t think Landy Black and the Davis PD were capable of creating a MOVE event here in Davis, why bring it up? Choosing an example of failure to consider the options from a community much closer to Davis in size would have resulted in a lower level of “guilt by association.”

      With respect to your final paragraph, I agree that even though they had the authority to proceed with the acquisition, circling back to the Council to let them know that an “event” was impending would have been wise.

  20. Tia Will

    Matt
    Knowing you to be very intelligent, I honestly can’t tell if you really don’t understand or if you are just jerking my chain.
    I will give you the benefit of the doubt and try to clarify. Examples of misjudgment leading to harm says absolutely nothing
    about the degree of harm done.

    I also used facts presented by surgeons as the minimum that patients should expect before undergoing surgery. That doesn’t mean that I think it likely that Landy will be applying to medical school .

    These are analogy and example, not as I said before implied equivalencies.

    1. Matt Williams

      Not jerking your chain Tia. As part of my work I was one block from the MOVE complex when the incident began. I have vivid memories of it. My wife was in the New York Subway in November 1965 when the electricity went out. Certain events are larger than life. Given the complexities of what happened at MOVE, I would never use it as an example for anything that might happen in Davis California. It is the equivalent of using Jonestown as an example of something that might happen in Davis.

  21. Tia Will

    Matt

    “I would never use it as an example for anything that might happen in Davis California.”

    I agree. And neither was I as I have said now three times. I was using it as an example of error in judgement by authorities, not something I believe would occur here. You are trying to discredit the idea of errors in police judgment by trying to tie me to the degree of the consequences which was not at all my point, as you now know.

    Also, since you were in Philadelphia at the time, you will recall that W.Wilson Goode was the mayor at the time,
    not Frank Rizzo. Equally irrelevant is that the Police Commissioner at the time was Gregore Sambor, and I wasn’t likening Chief Black to him either although that would have been the more appropriate misattribution for you to make.

    1. Matt Williams

      Tia, I clearly am having a hard time separating the example error from the example community that you think the error applies to. If you weren’t saying that this was an error of the type we could experience in Davis then I’m not sure how the example error applies. I am not trying to discredit the idea of errors in police judgement . . . I wholeheartedly embrace that concept. We all know and accept the fact that human beings make errors of judgment each and every day. The MOVE example doesn’t add incrementally to that acceptance of our human frailty. What MOVE as an example does tell us is the level of consequences that can come as a result of our human errors in judgment.

      Rizzo was Mayor of Philadelphia from January 1972 through January 1980, and Police Commissioner from April 1967 through February 1971. The errors in judgement with respect to MOVE began in 1970 and continued without abatement until the climactic confrontation/bombing in 1985. You are correct that by the time the final act of the long-running MOVE play hit the stage Wilson Goode had succeeded Bill Green, who had succeeded Rizzo, but the culture of the Philadelphia PD was all Rizzo all the time, and continued to be so until the City took steps to appoint a Police Commissioner from outside the Rizzo-loyalist department ranks in the person of Kevin Tucker.

      There were no counterbalances to the Rizzo mindset and all the recruitments and promotions were perpetuations of that mindset. There simply isn’t a snowball’s chance in Hell that that mindset could gain any traction in Davis.

  22. Edgar Wai

    Re: Tia

    The points that you mentioned are not missing. They are simply already addressed, less important, or less relevant compared to the reasons that were actually used to return the MRAP.

    For this kind of analysis, it is unnecessary to know the “best” option. It is sufficient to know the “better” option. Improvement can be made subsequently to reach a better option.

    1. Cost: The Chief already addressed this and estimated that the cost to maintain the MRAP is the same that would be used to maintain the Swambulance. The cost to train is the same cost currently assigned for SWAT training. The police does not decide the budget assigned to it. Since the Swambulance is breaking down, the same budget spent on the MRAP would be better than the same budget spent on the Swambulance to make it functional. For the cost, it is sufficient to know that MRAP is a better choice compared to trying to fix the Swambulance.

    2. Citizen Safety: From the perspective of the police, the Swambulance is no longer reliable functionally. That, the fact that the Swambulance is unusable, is the biggest threat to officer and citizen safety than anything that you mentioned. It was a comparison between a) fixing the Swambulance that is breaking down; b) an armor vehicle that the police has no money to buy; and c) an armor vehicle that the police could afford to get. The police chose (c) to recover the ability to deploy SWAT. If you are concerned about citizen safety, your first priority should be help the police get a functional vehicle to replace the Swambulance. Deciding to return the MRAP without knowing the contingency plan is unsafe.

    3. Abuse: The issue of abuse is unimportant compared to the fact that Swambulance is breaking down. The UCD pepper spray incident does not work to support the argument of abuse because of these three reasons:

    i) The pepper spray incident got a lot of media attention. The overall effect is that it makes police less likely to do something similar again. Due to the pepper spray incident, it is more rational to argue that the existence of the incident reduces the chance that the police would abuse their power.

    ii) It was the UCD police that did the pepper spray. The incident supports the argument that giving the Davis police a MRAP is better than giving the UCD police a MRAP.

    iii) SWAT was not used during the incident. It supports the argument that in a protest like the one on the pepper spray day, the Davis police would not deploy SWAT.

    If the protest leading to pepper spray did not occur, we would be missing these evidence on how the Davis police handle protestors. The pepper spray incident brings evidence that the Davis police would not abuse the MRAP against protestors.

    3b) Misjudgement: For the MRAP to hurt people, it would have to ram into or run over people. Such an act, when done intentionally, is arguably several levels more brutal than using pepper spray, using tear gas, user taser, shooting rubber bullets, shooting with real bullets. The kind of injury that one would get being run over by a MRAP would be mostly untreatable, that makes it more brutal than using real bullets. For this level of misjudgement to occur, the police and the people would be in a battle state. The ballistic armor of the MRAP would be relevant only when the people is shooting high power rifle shots at the MRAP trying to stop it. Otherwise, the police could have done the same with a peacekeeper, the Swambulance, the police SUVs or the patrol cars. If the Davis police is acting alone (along with the official that endorses such use), the police would be up against the other police agencies, the national guard, and the military unless they are all corrupted. I think currently, the police is responsible for when to use the MRAP, and the Chief would have to be accountable for any misuse. There is no city official that could order the Chief to use the MRAP. Additional regulations apply on when SWAT would be used, and there could be more regulations from the City regarding when the MRAP should not be used. Since there are many ways to limit the use of the MRAP, misjudgement is not a significant hurdle that cannot be overcome, therefore it is insufficient to use this concern to return the MRAP.

    4. Power differential: I had already addressed this in another thread. The ballistic property of the MRAP is irrelevant unless the people and the police are already in a battling state. Otherwise, the damage that the MRAP could deal or block, could also be dealt or blocked by a repaired Swambulance. As a armored vehicle without tracks like a panzer, the ballistic armor of the MRAP is meaningless until it can reach the destination it needs to inflict the damage. In this regard, the power differential is not on the side of the police but the citizens. There are simply way too many cars the citizens have that could block the streets to stop the MRAP, and way too easy to evade from the MRAP. Because of this, the power of the MRAP manifests in a situation where its target is more or less stationary and without the advantage of being numerous.

    Serving high risk search warrant is one of the situations where the difference between a MRAP and a Swambulance or a peacekeeper would matter. Because of this differential, it makes the MRAP a relatively safe* equipment to obtain compared to other equipments that the police could obtain.

    These concerns are not important compared to the fact that the Swambulance is breaking down and the police has no ballistic protection against high-power rifles. These two points were the points that the Chief mentioned. They are sufficient to justify acquiring the MRAP due to the advantages over fixing the Swambulance. The rest of the arguments are minor compared to the police’s responsibility to be able to deploy their SWAT as needed. I think the Chief correctly identified the most important reasons to get the MRAP.

    * Safe: When we analyze what kind of equipment is good for the police, ideally we want equipment that are powerful only applicable in serious situations, such that in less serious situation, the equipment is inapplicable, reducing the chance of misuse. Example of equipment that are more prone to abuse have these properties:

    1) Routinely accessible by each officer.
    2) Easily concealed by an officer carrying it.
    3) Difficult to tell if it is being used.
    4) Difficult to know if it has been used.
    5) Difficult to know when or where it is used.
    6) Difficult to know who used it.
    7) Difficult to negate its effect.
    8) Its existence is unknown to the public.
    9) Require no special preparation to use.
    10) …

    Equipment with these properties make good tools for spying or assassination. The MRAP does not fit the profile of something that can be easily abused. For it to be abused, it is not up to any officer walking a beat. It is highly visible and its existence is known.

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