MRAP Offers Protection


by Michelle Millet

Twenty years ago I completed an Emergency Medical Technician training course.  While most of what I learned is a little fuzzy, there is one piece of life saving formation that I will never forget. This information was so vital that it was as drilled into us over and over again and was guaranteed to be on every examine, both written or practical. It was this: Never, under any circumstances, were we to put our own safety at risk by entering a “scene” that was not safe, even if it meant leaving a victim untreated.

It is through this lens that I view the controversy regarding the Davis Police forces acquisition, and subsequent 3-1-1 council decision to return, the “MRAP,” a small armored vehicle worth about $700,00, that had been used by the military and was obtained by the police force, for free, through a program that “converts and re-purposes surplus federal and military  equipment that is suitable for use by local police departments.  The program is administered here in California by the Office of Emergency Services (OES).”

On Sept 10 the Sacramento Bee published an opinion piece entitled, “A healthy re-evaluation of the militarization of local police.”

The article mentions that on August 26 the Davis City Council voted to instruct our police department to come back to council in 4 weeks with a plan to return the MRAP.  (The vote was 3-1-1 with Councilmember Brett Lee dissenting, claiming he wanted additional time to examine the pro’s and con’s of keeping the vehicle, and Councilmember Swanson abstaining).

The article states, “Residents were appalled by the idea of a war machine on the streets of peaceful Davis.”

While there are residents who are appalled by this machine I’m not one of them.  I don’t view the MRAP as a war machine, nor do I view it, or any other object, as inherently evil because it was used in a war zone.

I also do not view the acquisition of this machine as a militarization of our police force.

I view the MRAP as tool that increases the safety of our police officers. While the streets of Davis are peaceful, the situations our police regularly are put into, protecting our community and keeping these streets peaceful,  are not.

The protective vehicle that our police force currently has access to is barely functional and needs to be replaced,  which will cost in the ballpark of $500,000.  The MRAP was an opportunity to replace this vehicle, with a functional one, for free. 

I realize that this vehicle reminds some of times and places where the police acted in oppressive and aggressive ways. They worry that this vehicle will be used for such purposes in our community.  Ironically it is because of these vigilant, concerned, and engaged citizens that I have few worries that our police would misuse this piece of protective equipment.

Instead of viewing the MRAP as an aggressive piece of machinery, I would ask people to consider viewing it as a vehicle that protects the people who are protecting our community and the quality of life that comes along with all of our peaceful streets.

About The Author

Michelle Millet is a 25-year resident of Davis. She currently serves as the Chair of the Natural Resource Commission.

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  1. BrianRiley429

    How about we install a “Star Wars” missile defense system, a la Ronald Reagan’s proposal? That should improve our safety in the City of Davis. We could set it up on the outskirts of town and hold occasional drills.

      1. Barack Palin

        Comeon Brian, that would be the same as saying the MRAP deniers don’t care about police safety and want them to patrol on bikes while wearing a tshirt and shorts and only armed with a slingshot.

        1. hpierce

          Not a sling-shot… too miliataristic (famous general, starting with a “G” I believe, was brought down with such a vile weapon of destruction)… perhaps a melodic whistle.

          1. Barack Palin

            LOL hpierce, not just a whistle, but a melodic one at that.

            We can’t have the harsh trill of a loud whistle as it might offend or startle someone.

      2. Sam


        The City just got a call from the North Hollywood police department, Newtown Connecticut police department and Columbine police department asking what we are going to do with the MRAP. They said that it might be a good thing to have around to save some lives sometime in case something horrible happens in their town…again.

        I hope we never need something like that here, but if we do I hope it or something like it is available to save lives.

        1. Davis Progressive

          it’s unlikely this vehicle would have been of much use at newtown or santa barbara. it’s possible that it might have helped in columbine, because the officers got there in time to take fire, but even that’s questionable.

          1. Sam

            North Hollywood where they just walked down the street in the open shooting at cops?

            My point is that I just hope we don’t get rid of it and then need it.

      1. Tia Will

        Not a good idea

        “What incoming missiles would we be defending ourselves from? Improved safety can only happen if there is mitigated danger.”

        I agree with this statement. And it is at the heart of one of my objections to the MRAP. What IED’s would we be defending our police from ? My understanding is that this danger was the specific purpose for the design of the MRAP. To the best of my knowledge, the MRAP has never been produced specifically for the purpose of the defense of police. It was designed and produced for use in a war setting against a specific type of threat that our police will not be encountering. From the statement of the police chief, it would appear that it is being speculated that it will useful in a setting such as Davis since he presented possible scenarios, but not one actual case.

        I agree with Michelle that the MRAP itself is not “evil”. However, I see no evidence presented that it is the best method for protection of the police, or anyone else. That is the critical piece that is missing here.

        First, do we need an armored vehicle at all ?
        How many times was our old one used ?
        How many times did it actually make a difference ( save a life) ? How many lives has an MRAP saved in circumstances similar to ours ?

        So the question for me is : would the MRAP make our police safer, or would it just make them feel safer knowing it is here ? I do not dispute the desirability of police safety. Before we invest time, energy, and yes, money that possibly could be better spent on other means of protection, wouldn’t it be nice to know if this is our best option ?

        I have stated that my preference was not to have it and my reasons. I have also stated that I would have been happy with taking the additional time for more consideration. What I do not see being appreciated by those who cannot see any downside to the MRAP at all, is a failure to consider the strongly held views of others who definitely do not feel safer with its presence.

        1. Matt Williams

          “What I do not see being appreciated by those who cannot see any downside to the MRAP at all, is a failure to consider the strongly held views of others who definitely do not feel safer with its presence.”

          Brett Lee’s motion very clearly tried to set up a dialogue process in which the views of everyone could have been heard.

          1. Tia Will


            Agreed, which is why I would have been fine with that outcome even though I think it was two years too late in coming.

          2. Matt Williams

            I think it was two years too late in coming.

            Understood and agreed Tia. The same can be said about the Mace 391 decision/process. If that public dialogue had robustly begun when the Innovation Park Task Force was formed in Early 2011 then the community wouldn’t have gone through the MRAP-like angst that it experienced in mid-2013.

          3. DT Businessman

            I agree with medwoman. We should not address anything after a 2-year statute of limitations. The surface water project is out. The roads are out. The swimming pools are out. The waste water treatment is out. The parks are out. The bike paths are out. A sustainable city budget is out. Carbon emissions are definitely out as are plastic bags. Etc. Etc.

            -Michael Bisch

          4. Matt Williams

            It is clear from your comment Michael that you did not understand what medwoman was saying. You may want to reread her comment again.

        2. Edgar Wai

          Hello Tia,
          I have posted so many times explaining that your demand of evidence is irrelevant. Have you replied on why you believe that they are relevant? I cannot tell whether you read the explanation or ignored them.

          Using the IED protection property to argue against the MRAP, while ignoring the ballistic properties is illogical given that the police has no access to armored vehicle with the same ballistic armor (peacekeeper cannot block high power rifle shots).

          1. Tia Will


            I have read your comments and simply disagree for reasons I have already stated
            my reasoning but will post again, I do not believe that except in the circumstance of imminent life or death circumstances, evidence is ever irrelevant.

            As Frankly frequently and correctly points out, decisions can be made on a fact based approach or an emotional approach, and I would add that most decisions draw from both. I believe that in a decision of this magnitude where the safety of both police and citizens is at stake, it is incumbent on the police to work in consultation with the elected representatives of the community. I know that you disagree. I respect your right to have reached a different conclusion than I have from the same information. Your post is actually a great illustration of my comment about differing points of view not being appreciated.

          2. Edgar Wai

            Re Tia: #248657

            I appreciate your replies. To me you are exposing a flaw of applying “scientific approach” in a context that would make a decision making process impractical. Practical decision making includes considerations such as responsibility, delegation, contingency, and adaptability.

            Decisions that are meant to reach an expected outcome should be made based on facts and correct understanding of the situation if practical. This has nothing to do with emotion, but has to do with assessment of risks and uncertainties and compare them.

            Making decision to prepare for the imminent:

            In your reply you agreed that imminent life or death circumstances are important. The type of situations (serving high risk search warrant, or reacting to an active shooter) is a life or death situation. However, it would be too late to decide whether to get a MRAP when it happens.

            Imagine a era where there health professional did not have a tradition to use gloves. Sometimes people get infected, but the chance was low, but the effect was severe. At a particular local hospital, no hospital employee had died from that yet, but it is a known fact that they deal with blood-borne diseases.

            In that context, a hypothesis was made that using gloves might reduce the chance of getting infected. No study had been done on how well it might work, however, it was obvious that body fluids cannot penetrate the gloves.

            The local hospital, aware of the existing risk of death, order these gloves. There had yet been no extensive study about these gloves because it was obvious that the body fluid could not get through. The hospital also did not inform the city council because they considered it a routine change concerning only the safety of the hospital employees.

            1. Should the hospital have ordered the gloves?
            2. If the hospital workers want the gloves, does the city have the rights to stop them?
            3. What kind of reason would be necessary for the council to stop the hospital from using gloves?

            The situation of the MRAP is similar to the analogy above. The threat exists, but the full extend of its effect is uncommon or never happened at the locale. The people that are currently affected by the risk want the protection. There is no in-depth analysis or prediction about the full ramification of the change. The only certainty is that that the MRAP could obviously block rifle shots and there are known situations where it could be used. The police also deemed it affordable and could replace the Swambulance, and it was within their delegated authority to get the MRAP.

            1. Should the police have gotten the MRAP?
            2. If the police wants the MRAP, does the city have the rights to stop them?
            3. What kind of reason would be necessary for the council to stop the police from using the MRAP?

            In this case, there is obvious evidence that the MRAP has ballistic protection and that it is mechanically sound (compared to the Swambulance). Evidence of high power rifles was provided. Examples of how the MRAP could be used was also provided. It should be very clear that the decision was not completely void of evidence.

            The kind of evidence that you have been asking for, is for the analysis of the full ramification of having and using the MRAP. Full ramification is often impractical to know. To add to the complexity, it is difficult to collect data, and data could become outdated even if they were collected.

            Difficulty in collecting data:

            That kind of data you would need to study the full ramification requires criminal and officers and victims/bystanders playing out episodes of conflicts. Such study is problematic because those situations do not frequently happen. It is sociopathic to try to intentionally set up such situation just to get the data, therefore the only available, ethical solution is to draw a conclusion based on reasonable expectations.

            Each expectation could be argued separately, and their combined effects simulated. Such simulation is not as good as having actual data of how things happen in reality, but it is the next best option until the situation happens in reality.

            Two important points to consider:

            1. In reality, you cannot even study this or start to collect data unless the MRAP is used. That is the prerequisite to study the full ramification. Ideally, you want a police department with access to a MRAP, so that they could compare for themselves whether having the MRAP is better, at least for them. As a society, such study could be done in cities with more high risk crimes. If the MRAP is useful there, there is still another layer to justify that it is useful in cities with less crime. Data points with the most relevance is collected if we let our own police department collect it.

            2. Given that the MRAP exists and is accessible, you cannot force the police to not have it. They would have to volunteer not to use it because they are the primary risk bearers. If you ask for such data, you would want to convince the police to be scientific, so that even if they have a MRAP, they maintain the curiosity to not use it sometimes to compare the results. You can’t force people to be your human test subjects. They would have to be volunteers, or the doctor would have to do the test on themselves.

            Therefore, to be scientifically oriented, one would want the police to have the MRAP, but give them some kind of probation period to collect data on whether the MRAP is actually helpful.

            To stop the police rationally, you would have to justify that your expectation that the MRAP would cause harm is bigger than the expectation that the MRAP would be helpful. In this situation, you also see that the playing field is not balanced. It is much easier to saboteur a situation to prove that something is unhelpful. The people around the MRAP would have to have the integrity to genuinely want to know whether the MRAP is helpful.

            To conclude this long post here is a list of my expectations that you could individually agree or disagree. You could also list your expectations. If you do, we can see what exactly we are expecting and try to predict what would happen to the best of our understanding.

            This is done because:
            1. We want to address the risk of police work on the police.
            2. We want to address the risk of misuse of police equipment on anyone.

            My expectations:

            1. The MRAP can move and carry SWAT and their equipment better than the Swambulance.

            2. In a situation with a sociopathic shooter, the earlier the police (or any armed person) shows up, the earlier the shooter might end the episode by suicide because the shooter does not want to be caught and only prepared to kill people, not to have a gun battle.

            3. When a criminal see no chance of escape, the criminal tends to give up and surrender instead of trying to fight to the death.

            4. A free running shooter can only carry so much weapons and do so much preparations. A shooter at their own property is much more dangerous if they have the intention to fight back and a mean to escape.

            5. Criminals are not organized to respond to the police showing up at their door. They do not intentionally get weapons to defeat the MRAP. The type of weapons that can legally obtained cannot defeat the MRAP easily.

            6. Compared to the Swambulance, the MRAP has little advantage over normal good citizens compared to the Swambulance. Normal good citizens are not trying to shoot at the police. Whatever harm the MRAP would do to them could be done with a Swambulance.

            7. While supplies last, the maintenance cost of the MRAP is comparable to the Swambulance. While supplies ends (1033 program terminated), the police would still have a reliable vehicle until they get another one. The police is not making a big investment that cannot decide to replace the MRAP later.

            8. The argument that “if the MRAP might be helpful, other cities can test it for us” can be countered by the argument that “the decision to let others test for us neglect the fact that we have no way to take responsibility if an officer in our city is injured due to our lack of the MRAP. The police would have to make that decision, not us.”

            9. The argument that “the MRAP is a symbol of evil” can be countered by the argument that using symbolism like this is the same as being hateful or discriminating. The history of an object’s life and the other objects associated with it so far does not define what the object is, and even the constitution is clear the rights regarding “symbols” is not that it can be taken away, but each person can have their own symbols. A person has the rights to wear evil symbols even if they also agree that it is evil. That is the difference between the US and communist China during cultural evolution. High schools with politically incorrect mascots change them on their own. If you want someone to abolish a symbol you don’t like, you inform them so and let them do it themselves.

            10. The argument that the MRAP incites people and escalates situations can be countered by the arguments that: 1) Police officers are employees. It is within the responsibility of the employer to provide adequate protection. 2) The tactic of civil disobedience is to cause attention, sometimes include the means to intentionally escalate a situation when they don’t get the attention they want. It would be at the disadvantage of the police to use the MRAP indiscriminately.

            11. The argument that the police officers are hungry for power and would use their toys any chance they have can be countered by the argument that given the rather recent situation of pepper spray and Ferguson, it is getting less likely that the Davis PD would make a wrong call, and more likely that the police would make good records of (video taping) reasons that justify their use of force.

            12. The MRAP would be used just as frequently as the Swambulance would be used.

            13. The MRAP is deployed only if SWAT is deployed.

            14. The MRAP takes more fuel to operate. The annual difference between that and the Swambulance is within $300. (assumptions: $5/gallon, 200 miles per year. Swambulance 15 mpg, MRAP 3 mpg)

            and someone hypothesize that by using gloves, the chance for getting infected might decrease.


            Making decision in the absence of data and analysis:

            Sometimes decisions should be made with the lack of deep analysis for practical reasons. The police

        3. theotherside

          “And it is at the heart of one of my objections to the MRAP. What IED’s would we be defending our police from ?”

          It also stops bullets, that’s a pretty big deal.

          “Before we invest time, energy, and yes, money that possibly could be better spent on other means of protection, wouldn’t it be nice to know if this is our best option ?”

          This option cost $1 to purchase plus maintenance fees. The other option, replacing the armored personnel carrier DPD already has that is in need of replacement, $500,000. I didn’t major in math or economics, but looks like a better deal.

          So it’s been a couple of weeks since City Council put this issue to rest. I am curious why the DV keeps rehashing it. Hot topic with all the extra hits? Victory laps? Or do you guys just like all the comments???

          1. Barack Palin

            “So it’s been a couple of weeks since City Council put this issue to rest. I am curious why the DV keeps rehashing it. Hot topic with all the extra hits? Victory laps? Or do you guys just like all the comments???

            I was wondering the same thing. IMO, you’ll also see the Vanguard throw in an occasional racism story knowing that it always gets a lot of comments.

          2. David Greenwald

            I guess I need to clarify a few things.

            First, Michelle sent this to me late at night last night and asked if I wanted to publish it. We have an open policy for submissions, so yes, we did. Ironically, this is an example where editorial board members don’t all agree on a policy, that’s fine as well.

            Second, this isn’t a dead issue. Council is coming back with this and from what I’ve heard they may open it up for more discussion.

            Third, comments are not necessarily correlated with readers. For example, this article has more comments than the Marsh trial coverage but fewers readers.

          3. Tia Will

            I agree that subjects frequently do come up repetitively on the Vanguard. I believe that there are two good ways to foster greater variety:

            1) write an article yourself. David has been very receptive to posting guest articles. On a wide variety of topics from the weighty right down to me sweeping my front patio.

            2) Write to David with a topic you would like to see covered. If he does not write it himself , he will often suggest that a member of the editorial board or another community member with special expertise or knowledge take it on.

          4. Matt Williams

            To theotherside: I concur wholeheartedly with Tia. I personally prefer 1) because it widens the voices that are being heard throughout the community. Barack Palin has talked about submitting articles with a Right-leaning perspective and with an eye to National issues that are playing themselves out in our lives here in Davis. he had some personal issues that got in the way, but we are eagerly awaiting his first submission.

            One reader recently submitted the following suggestion to the Moderator. The Editorial Board thought it was a very good and thoughtful suggestion. The story/article submitted by the reader might start by introducing the topic (political dysfunction in the example case) and then follow that introduction with excerpts from the linked article that explore/illuminate the topic (in the example case Francis Fukuyama’s America In Decay) and links the topic and the article to what we are experiencing in Davis.

            We have tried to build the inventory of article submitters. We are reaching out to you to take you up on your offer to submit articles. Dan Carson has stepped to the plate. The school board candidates have stepped up. Tia Will and Jeff Boone have submitted some of the most commented on articles in the Vanguard’s history. This represents an opportunity to build on that.

            Issues surrounding posts are ones that the Vanguard must tackle. A serious lack of focus and civility often occurs at the point where opposing views run out of gas, or are highjacked by someone who is determined to rule the day. It truly reminds me of a poorly run discussion in a classroom. The reason is simple, without a moderator the discussion dissolves into strident repetitions of programed views with the usual dose of overly inflated sidebars and grandstanding that detract more than they add to any type of consensus thinking.

            Agreement and thoughtful commentary will never really find their way into these types of formats. At best these forums point out the need for town hall meetings and discussions where participants have to really consider the people and issues as a dynamic process.

            I do have only this suggestion. Once a month the Vanguard could feature a publication or suggestion for discussion–assigned reading in an online town hall setting. All participants have to use their real, full names if they want to participate and agree to a set of prescribed guidelines. Each online town hall meeting could get generated in a myriad of ways: local concerns, events, proposals in the community. Or, a suggested reading, article, book could serve as a point of discussion. This community concern, article or other piece of writing would generate a discussion with a list of prompts or disscussion starters/topics. Guest moderators could be found in our local schools, the university, or clubs/organizations. My suggestion for this month would be the following:


        4. DT Businessman

          “To the best of my knowledge, the MRAP has never been produced specifically for the purpose of the defense of police.”

          Another goofy statement by medwoman. There are countless items re-purposed for other uses. What was a school building is now city hall. What was city hall is now a restaurant. Fuel drums are now barbecues. Shovels are now a sculpture. Tires are now playgrounds Alton Brown has even used a cardboard box to smoke salmon.

          -Michael Bisch

          1. Tia Will


            I am all for repurposing and recycling after a thorough evaluation of:

            1. Need for the proposed new item
            2. Is the proposed item the best way to achieve the desired goal
            3. Both immediate and long term costs – in comparison to other alternatives

            I would expect such an analysis in advance of any such major change being made in a public structure at public expense. That is what did not occur here.

  2. Offering Balance

    Michelle, thank you for the column but it would be much easier if we stick with the illogical assumptions that the MRAP is a tank and the police will use it to respond to barking dog calls.

  3. Jim Frame

    Two points:

    1. It wasn’t “free.” It cost $6k to ship here, would have cost many thousands more to convert to a vehicle usable by the PD, and carries an unknown maintenance and operation cost over and above current budget.

    2. Brett Lee didn’t abstain, he voted no. Rochelle voted yes — as announced by the mayor at the close of the item — and then used an obscure parliamentary rule to change her vote to abstention. Nothing nefarious in that, but I believe it was handled badly by the Council and the City Attorney, especially in light of the emotional nature of the matter.

    1. South of Davis

      Jim wrote:

      > It wasn’t “free.” It cost $6k to ship here, would have cost many thousands
      > more to convert to a vehicle usable by the PD, and carries an unknown maintenance
      > and operation cost over and above current budget.

      Don’t forget how much it will cost to keep on the road with union labor and VERY expensive special parts. We can’t have EVERYTHING “and” a balanced budget so if Michelle and others really want the MRAP (or other Military vehicles we don’t need) maybe we can fire a few people (say the bicycle coordinator or person that runs the recycling program) to pay for the expensive new toys…

      1. DavisBurns

        In addition to maintenance costs, we have to pay the police to learn to operate the thing safely. I’d rather they spent their time dining police work. Off topic: in reading the info on the Marsh trial, it appears they would still be looking for the killer if Marsh’s buddy had not turned him in.

        1. theotherside

          RE: off topic. So they catch a murderer in your community and still not happy, typical. DPD does an exceptional job, I’ve seen them in action. Quite a big assumption that they’d still be looking for the killer if he wasn’t snitched out. How many homicides have you solved DB? This kid was sloppy and off balance, so I’ll assume the detectives would have nabbed him anyway. But luckily his friends eventually did the right thing before there were more killings…cause there would have been.

          1. Davis Progressive

            i’m not sure i agree that the dpd does an exceptional job. my experience was that they were very poor at investigations, there were often holes in their case. i practiced criminal defense in this county for 15 years. my reading of the court watch articles, leaves me with the impression that not much has changed.

          2. theotherside

            Interesting. Do you know how you get good at doing homicide investigations? By doing a lot of them. Luckily your village hasn’t had a need for a detective to build that expertise. As far as holes in their investigations go, I’ve been in the witness chair and endured probing from those in your profession. Pointing out, for example, that no DNA was collected on a simple possession of stolen property case is not a hole, it’s a reach by the defense to make a jury think all wasn’t done and your client is being victimized.

            So back on topic. Most police officers will go their entire career without needing to use their firearm or ballistic vest. That doesn’t mean they should be scrapped because it makes them look intimidating.

    2. Edgar Wai

      Hello Jim,
      Do you know how police get money to maintain its fleet?
      I am under the impression that the police needs to manage its own budget, therefore, for equipment concerning their safety, the police itself is the first victim if they get something that cannot maintain.

      If the police gets a blank check to maintain whatever they have, they would have alway had the money to renew the Swambulance or have brought a replacement. The fact that they did not or cannot, indicated to me that they do not have access to such blank check.

      Does the police automatically get a blank check for fixing or renewing the Swambulance as long as they don’t replace it?

  4. Cecilia Escamilla-Greenwald

    “The protective vehicle that our police force currently has access to is barely functional and needs to be replaced, which will cost in the ballpark of $500,000. The MRAP was an opportunity to replace this vehicle, with a functional one, for free.”

    Michelle, Council also considered the maintenance costs associated with the MRAP and the costs were too great. If the police department needs better protection or more officers then council should know about this so there can be steps taken to allocate the funding.

    1. Frankly

      This comment needs to be verified, because I have also heard that MRAP would not cost the police budget any more than the existing vehicle that the police already have and operate… but that the existing vehicle is about as effective as aluminum foil at protecting officers from high-powered rifles and environmental hazards.

      1. Michelle Millet

        I was under the same impression. That the maintenance of this vehicle would cost the same as any SWAT vehicle, and that some parts could be obtained for free through the same program the vehicle was squired through.

        1. Tia Will


          There now seems to be some question about whether or not this program will be continued. Seems to me that would be important to ascertain prior to any reconsideration of keeping it.

          1. Tia Will

            Another consideration in terms of long term maintenance would be how long replacement parts for these vehicles would be available. If the military is divesting themselves of this vehicle, how long are replacement parts likely to be available either through the current program, when and if the program ends, or just plain on the market when these vehicles are no longer in production. Similarly, if the military is no longer using these vehicles,how long before their training and support services end ?
            If this issue is reopened, these are the kinds of questions that need to be addressed prior to a decision to keep.

  5. Biddlin

    Be Real! Here’s a different way to look at officer “protection,” using more likely real dangers than an armed suspect.

    From, a cop forum:
    (Author Tim Dees, speaking with Bobby Russell, the civilian site lead for MRAP University, Red River Army Depot, Texarkana, TX)
    “Most of the front doors are air-assisted,” Russell told me. “Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t. When entering an MRAP, if a crewman reaches up to the door handle to pull himself up, it can and will close the door on them.”

    Malfunctions are even more likely if the vehicle has suffered a mishap and the engine is no longer running. If there is no air pressure, the functions are limited.

    MRAP doors are also fitted with “combat locks” designed to keep the enemy from getting up close and personal with the crew. If these locks are engaged, it will be very difficult for rescue personnel to gain access to the interior of the vehicle.

    MRAP University has one rollover simulator, an MRAP shell that can be rotated at will by the simulator operator. These simulators aren’t widely available, and local public safety agencies aren’t likely to have access to them.

    There is a reason that rollovers are a special concern. Of 66 MRAP accidents overseas between November 2007 and June 2008, 40 were rollovers caused by rough roads, road shoulders collapsing, bridge failures or bad driving. These vehicles have a high center of gravity, and taking them on an incline of 30 degrees or more can cause them to topple.

    The crew member in the top turret is at greatest risk in a rollover. While just taking personnel out of the turret is an option, it invites a new hazard. Visibility from inside the vehicles is very poor, and the person manning the turret often has to advise the driver via the vehicle’s intercom about obstructions to the side or rear.

    The turret itself could be a problem in an urban environment. The turret is almost ten feet off the ground, and a rider’s body adds to that height. Troops manning turrets were occasionally clotheslined by utility cables or booby traps while crossing the terrain they were navigating.

    The vehicles are extremely heavy for their size. The Caiman weighs 24 tons unloaded; the MaxxPro over 18 tons. Personnel and equipment add to that load. Small bridges have collapsed under the weight of MRAPs. Would the bridges in your community be up to the challenge?

    Although he might prefer otherwise, Russell can’t provide much assistance in training or maintenance for MRAPs. The Army regards MRAPs as legacy equipment, and MRAP University will soon shut down.”


    1. DavisBurns

      Biddin, thank you for that information. The bad driving concerns me. Everyone who might drive it has to be trained. Expensive. And our roads in such lousy condition–they certainly don’t need a24 ton vehicle driving on them. Apparently, we are keeping our police force safe by keeping them out of that unsafe vehicle.

    2. Frankly

      The weight has been removed from the top of the vehicle because the weight is the weapon system that the military installs. Without the weight on the top of the vehicle it is much more stable and much less prone to roll overs. In fact, the risk of rollover is no more or less than would be any vehicle used to transport multiple officers to a scene. The only primary difference is the vehicle you would prefer is much less safe for the officers inside.

  6. tj

    “Defense” contractors are paid lots of taxpayer dollars selling bigger and bigger weapons, which are soon used by both sides, so even bigger and more expensive equipment is needed, and the downward cycle continues.

    Perhaps education and income equality and health care are better places to spend our money for a safer world.

    (How can anyone pretend the MRAP isn’t a military machine? In fact it’s military surplus/trash.)

    The training to never put oneself in danger is silly when we think about it. We’re always in danger – falling tree branch, trip and fall, ………. Carefully judging the amount of danger makes more sense.

  7. Anon

    How many MRAPs owned by cities have had a problem with rollovers, lock problems, etc.? I couldn’t find any with an internet search. The police made very clear that maintenance costs and training would not be unreasonable, and within their existing budget. The MRAP is an armored truck that protects police and potential victims from high-powered weapons, which do exist in Davis. The Davis Police Dept currently has an armored vehicle that does not work, and needs to be replaced at a minimum cost of $250,000.

  8. Frankly

    The MRAP “RAP” continues.

    I think it there is a very interesting social and political factoid contained here… and it reflects a large issue.

    Polling on the ISIS situation is Iraq has over 70 percent of Americans agreeing that the US should do something militarily to stop ISIS. But when asked if the US should commit soldiers on the ground, or if the US should spend any significant money on the operation, the approval rate dropped to the mid 30 percent.

    There is a disconnect in many people with respect to end and means. It looks like a lot of Pollyanna thinking from my perceptive. And it also looks like a lack of perspective from my perspective.

    The thinking is that the risk of potential harm from a failure to act decisively and resolutely to eliminate the threat of potential harm is too low to justify the expense. Pollyannaism is apparent in those that think we will never have another terrorist attack that significantly impacts us… and it is also apparent in the comments that Davis never will have any trouble that justifies the MRAP that serves as insurance to eliminate the threat.

    And then there is then there are the alarmists on both sides… one more apt to trust and side with law enforcement and the military for doing a good and necessary job to keep us safe, and then the other side that sees law enforcement and/or the military as the bigger threat to personal and/or social safety.

    But like the polling on ISIS shows, many people do not possess the capability to make reasoned and objective decisions about their future safety. They demanded that the US pull out of Iraq and Afghanistan and elected a President that said he would… even as the sitting President was telling us we would be back to war again if we left too early and did not complete the job. And some of those same people are still maintaining that ISIS is not a threat to this most powerful, sophisticated and progressive country.

    I think these people must have forgotten 9-11 and how that single day almost brought us to our knees… and certainly wiped out billions from the economy. It is a sad shame how the memories and perspectives so quickly leave our collective understanding.

    It would be great if parts of the utopian dream held by the people prone to rejecting the use of this MRAP tool would materialize. It would be great if high powered rifles and other explosive devices would not end up in the hands of mentally and emotionally unstable people, and terrorists. It would be great if no hazardous materials would be transported through our fair little hamlet. It would be great if we didn’t have bad people willing to rob banks and take hostages.

    The world is a dangerous place. All of these risks and hazards exist despite the fact that many people are prone to deny them until the day they are impacted by them.

    But without the insurance, their demand to be saved will much more likely be too late.

    At this point in human history we are 100% recycling all of our moral questions. Our country’s founders were largely historians that were motivated to apply lessons-learned and to design a system of governance that finally worked. Within the lessons was the complete understanding of the tug and shortcomings of direct democracy. People are inherently narcissistic… pursuing their immediate self interest and attempting to satiate their immediate needs with at best only secondary consideration for long-term well being. But the founders were also knowledgeable of and fearful of the tug of tyranny. And gun ownership freedom and freedom of the press, as well as a legislative and judicial checks and balances, were the way they decided to prevent if from happening.

    But public safety was never something that the founders were comfortable turning over to popular opinion. The President was vested with power as Commander In-Chief because of this.

    And getting back to the local MRAP situation. The problem is that the popular opinion has no place driving decisions of public safety. The majority of the city council are demonstrating weak leadership… pandering to popular opinion of the loud, instead of doing their duty to take advantage of opportunities for additional insurance of safety.

    We blew it big time here. Let’s hope we don’t ever pay the price for our mistake.

    1. Barack Palin

      “We blew it big time here. Let’s hope we don’t ever pay the price for our mistake.”

      If we do end up paying a price we will know where to point the finger.

  9. Tia Will


    You and I are in complete agreement about the importance of the lessons of history. We just seem to have incorporated different lessons into our world views.

    “The majority of the city council are demonstrating weak leadership… pandering to popular opinion of the loud, instead of doing their duty to take advantage of opportunities for additional insurance of safety.”

    Here you have your timeline wrong. The majority had already expressed their preliminary opinions well before the strong expression of public disfavor encountered at public comment. As I recall, you did not speak out against “pandering to the alarmists over the issue of fluoride” when there were large numbers of people lined up to speak against it, or even when Rochelle cited emails of “7 to 1 against” as informing her thinking. This suggest to me that you only consider it “pandering” when their position is different from yours, but good decision making when in agreement.

    1. Frankly

      Tia – the difference here is facts and science. They were not on your side on the fluoride issue, and they are not on your side on the MRAP issue.

      As you aptly point out, there are two cerebral processors at work for all human decisions: logical and emotional.

      Your decisions and opinions are obviously more dominated by your emotional processor, and I am obviously less dominated by mine (some would say I just lack feelings).

      But everyone processes through an emotional filter unless they have some significant brain dysfunction.

      There is an interesting little test to illustrate this. Ask someone to look at a new car and then ask them if they like it or not. Then ask them to explain why. Then look at the list of “why’s” and many if not most of them will be completely subjective. For example “I like or do not like the color or design”. Or, “it looks like a tank and it reminds me of war… yuk!”

      “I like” or “I do not like”… that is the basis for most of drives our decisions.

      I get that it is often impossible to ignore strong feelings and express an opinion in support of something we do not like… even if those inconvenient facts keep poking us and prodding us. It is likewise difficult to oppose stuff we like just because of facts and objectivity.

      Emotions make us human and not robots. That is a good thing.

      But emotions are also the reason we humans fight and make so many mistakes in life. Well let me correct that… unresolved, unrecognized emotions are often the reasons humans fight and make so many mistakes in life.

      From my perspective the more evolved human is one that grows great emotional intelligence and powers-through emotional filters to get to a place where decisions can be based on facts and objectivity. And the emotional pull of like or dislike just becomes one of the criteria… not the driving force.

      Because decisions made from an emotional basis are always sub-optimized and have greater risk of being a mistake. And as we collect mistakes in buckets in this city, this state and this country… and most of them are made from a basis of emotional drivers.

      This is one of the strengths and weaknesses of democracy. The strength is that a passionate upwelling of bottom-up, grass-roots, community activism can effect policy. The weakness is that a passionate upwelling of bottom-up, grass-roots, community activism can effect policy.

      Elected leaders worth their salt are supposed to cut through the emotional baggage and make fact-optimize decisions.

      But more and more… primarily since the age of the overbearing press and media, we tend to elect pseudo leaders that test which way the emotions are flowing and ride with the current.

      And so we pile on more mistakes.

      1. Tia Will


        “Elected leaders worth their salt are supposed to cut through the emotional baggage and make fact-optimize decisions.”

        Agreed. And this is exactly what I believe that the majority did in the case of the MRAP. The problem was that there were no facts presented by the police. Only conjecture about who it might be helpful in some cases if they were to ever occur. This are not facts Frankly. These are the police speculating about how they might, or might not be safer. How would they know since they offer no scenarios whatsoever in which it has been helpful in like settings. Speculation is simply not fact, no matter how it is presented.

      2. BrianRiley429


        “Fact-based” doesn’t mean “a close-up view” of the facts. That would be the myopic approach. The best approach is to take a broad-based view, while incorporating *other* facts from seemingly distant categories. That’s what Robb Davis was doing when he talked about symbolism. To take into account symbolism the way he did is not the same thing as avoiding facts.

        The final analysis, Frankly, is that you consistently take a pseudo-intellectual approach, and you’re wearing us out. Being the last man standing doesn’t mean you are right. It just means you are long-winded and don’t have other things to do. I for one am tired of your continued display of pseudo-intellectuality on these webpages.

        1. Matt Williams

          I for one am tired of your continued display of pseudo-intellectuality on these webpages.

          Well then Brian, perhaps it is past your bed time, and you should get some shut eye. After all … tomorrow is another day.

          1. BrianRiley429

            Alright, Matt, I have asked you *several* times to stop addressing comments toward me. What you are doing is immoral. In retaliation, I have un-friended David on my Facebook account and also blocked him. I will keep retaliating in this manner until you stop.

        2. Frankly

          Brian my friend, I think you might be looking at all of this from a too-strong emotional filter. I really crave hearing some arguments from that strong intellectual, fact-based filter I know you have. Maybe you have something convincing to share, but the stuff you wrote above isn’t really good blog material.

          A policy decision over symbolism is absolutely a decision focused on the emotional. I’m not saying that it isn’t important or should not be considered. I am saying that it should not dominate. And that is what has dominated the opposition to the MRAP.

          And that is a fact.

          1. Don Shor

            I’m not saying that it isn’t important or should not be considered. I am saying that it should not dominate. And that is what has dominated the opposition to the MRAP.

            And that is a fact.

            Actually, that is an opinion.

          2. BrianRiley429

            Hey Frankly,

            Just because you say the word “emotional,” doesn’t make it true. You apparently, have little familiarity with an entire field of study, the humanities, were symbols and symbolism are discussed at great depth — not to mention the field of linguistics (of which I hold a master’s degree).

            You gotta a lot of learning to do yet, Frankly. Meanwhile, you take up the time of busy people who have to fend off your claims.

            Don’t you have anything better to do? What *do* you do all day, anyway?

      3. Anon

        To Frankly: I disagree that the facts were not on the side of the pro-fluoride folks. More facts were on the side of the pro-fluoride issue than on the opponents side – and so thought the WAC. However the problem there was to vote in favor of fluoride would have brought on the possibility of a threatened referendum on the surface water project. Now the reason I delve into this off topic issue is that to some extent the MRAP issue is similar. 3 City Council members believe the city does not need to dwell on a divisive issue, therefore it is best to make the decision to give the MRAP back, than to keep something that may further divide the community. The problem with that thinking is that a small minority will start figuring this sort of divisive tactic of threatening a lawsuit or referendum works to get their way, even if the majority of citizens disagrees. And I worry that is the exact direction this city is headed – governance by intimidation.

        1. Matt Williams

          I was a member of the WAC and heard all the testimony and received oceans of information from both sides of the fluoride debate. My personal opinion is/was that neither side presented compelling, current primary research.

          The No side relied principally on (A) meta-data and/or (B) data-supported suspicions that had not been confirmed with follow-up primary research, and/or (C) poorly controlled overseas research that also had not been confirmed with follow-up primary research.

          The Yes side relied on research done (depending on the study) 40-70 years ago. They could provide no primary research results completed in the last 10 years after the advent of and widespread use of alternative fluoride delivery mechanisms such as fluoride toothpaste. The Yes side’s principal argument was “Trust us, we are the authorities.”

          The WAC’s consideration of fluoride was a Shakespeare play … Much Ado About Nothing.

          1. Tia Will


            You are not the first person who has commented on the lack of recent primary research on fluoridation. I would like to present a different perspective on this issue. There are many, many areas of medicine in which you will find no recent medical research. This will be true in any area in which an intervention has already been demonstrated effective. This is one reason that there are no studies about the efficacy of fluoride in water supplies. It has been demonstrated as one effective strategy. I previously have pointed out the impossibility of prospective, large double blinded studies which eliminates that from current study possibilities.

            For example, you will find no recent primary research that demonstrates that combination birth control pills are effective contraceptives. Why ? Because that is established, universally accepted, demonstrated fact over many years of observation. Your comment would be the equivalent of saying “well, now that IUD’s. the shot, and the Nexplanon available, shouldn’t we go back and do primary studies again of the efficacy of the birth control pill ? My argument would be that that would be a waste of time and money. Even comparison studies will not be needed because we know the efficacy of the birth control pill and have for many years. This will not change over time unless completely new preparations are developed and then this will be compared against the existing methods without retesting of the existing methods.

            The same kind of reasoning applies to the principles of vaccination. There is no need to do primary testing to see if polio vaccine, or hepatitis or flue vacciniines are effective in principle. New batches will of course need QA testing and new preparations will need to be tested, but there is no need at all to do current research on the principle of whether or not vaccines are an effective strategy.

            Flouridation of water supply also falls within this area of established effectiveness.
            What we were actually arguing over was not the efficacy or toxicity of fluoride but rather the best system for administration.

          2. Matt Williams

            Tia, points well taken, but I would like to take your pill/IUD/shot/Nexplanon example to the next level in order to have it be equivalent to the fluoridation situation that evolved as new methods of administration became available. I’ll draw the parallel by asking you a question, “Do you have any of your patients using all four of the methods pill/IUD/shot/Nexplanon simultaneously? The reason that I ask is that in the case of the present systems of administration of fluoride in the US we do have the equivalent of a quadruple header of pill/IUD/shot/Nexplanon. Further, we clearly do know through primary research that too much fluoride can do damage. The huge problem I had with the anti-fluoride arguments was that they were willing to use junk science to trumpet some of the suspected contra-indications as absolute fact. However, in my opinion, the pro-fluoride camp was not willing to actively wrestle with the threats to public health that the changes in the “system for administration” had created. That is a very different situation than the “steady state” effectiveness that you have described. I would also state that in the situation of vaccinations, doctors rarely (never?) “double down” by prescribing/administering multiple different vaccinations for the same disease. In the case of vaccinations the system of administration is incredibly straightforward … and single threaded.

            With that said, I suspect Don may be thinking that we have gotten somewhat off topic by discussing fluoridation, so I’m going to leave my comments lay as they are said above, with full appreciation of the point of view you have shared.

        2. Robb Davis

          Frankly wrote: “The majority of the city council are demonstrating weak leadership… pandering to popular opinion of the loud, instead of doing their duty to take advantage of opportunities for additional insurance of safety.”

          Anon wrote: “And I worry that is the exact direction this city is headed – governance by intimidation.”

          I was elected to analyze facts, study options, consider unintended consequences, evaluate differing perspectives, and then render a judgment on a given issue (be it innovation parks, MRAPs, solar ordinances, water rates, or budget adjustments). This is what a representative democracy is all about. It is neither my responsibility nor my practice to try “take the temperature” of the populace to try to figure out what the “will” of the population is on a given issue. That would be impossible even in a situation in which the population or I had “perfect information,” because the sheer logistics of garnering all the nuances of positions would never yield absolute clarity.

          The point is, I cannot have perfect clarity on the “community’s will” on any issue and so I will NOT merely bow to the loudest or even most persistent voices if I believe what they are calling for is not in the best interests of the community. This is why I do my utmost to describe the rationale for my positions and votes on issues before the Council. Bottom line: I was elected to use the information available to me to make decisions, which are, in my judgment, in the best interests of the community.

          Disagree with me on a particular outcome. Make your counterarguments about the same. But please, in your disagreement with my decisions do not stoop to claiming that I am pandering to a particular voice or bowing to “public pressure” simply because that pressure exists and my decision happens to agree with it. That is correlation not causation. I was not elected to measure decibels (or count emails or number of speakers at a public meeting) and then cast a vote. And I will not do that.

          On another point that has been raised in relation to the MRAP—the “responsibility for harm”, I would note the following. For any decision we as a council make, if I vote for an action I am ultimately responsible for the consequences of my vote and our decision. How could it be otherwise?

          Finally, I will remind everyone that the motion I put forward had three parts plus a friendly amendment from Brett as follows. I am proceeding to assure that all four are accomplished:

          “1. Direct staff to return to City Council with options for disposing of the MRAP in the most expeditious and low cost manner within 60 days.
          2. Review donated or surplus material acquisition noticing guidelines to assure that major donated (to be defined by staff) or surplus equipment by any department are reviewed by the City Manager and City Council.
          3. Proceed with a public update of public safety issues related to active shooter situations and warrants, and consider alternatives that do not represent the repurposing of a military vehicle to face them. Consider enhanced personnel protection. Hold public participatory forums to exchange ideas on the options. Utilize information to make a decision about moving forward.

          Friendly amendment:

          (O)ver the next 60 days Council will meet with the Police Department to better understand the perceived need for an armored vehicle of some type.”

          1. Frankly

            Thanks for the comments Robb.

            First, I appreciate the difficulty of this and other decision put before you and the other CC members, and certainly you are never going to make everyone happy. And, yes, I have noted previous opinions and votes you have made against the grain of some vocal opposition. I think you will be constantly challenged this way going forward, because Davis needs to change in ways that some of the most vocal will not like.

            On #3., you seem to be leaving out the potential that the outcome of that public update would justify a bullet-proof and hazardous environment-resistant personal transport vehicle. Wouldn’t it be a great shame to discover that the MRAP was indeed the most appropriate and cost-effective solution from a features and function perspective… the only main opposing point is that is reminded the more sensitive citizens and council of symbols that they could not tolerate for irrational personal reasons.

            If the outcome is that we absolutely don’t think we need a vehicle like that (which then begs the question why do we already have one but with much less safety utility?), then this immediate CC decision to “return” the MRAP certainly would be right.

            My problem at this point is that #3 should have been completed before the decision by the CC. That would have been the rational decision and one proposed by Brett.

          2. Matt Williams

            Robb, what your comment above does not address is why there was “a rush to judgment.” The meeting where you made your three-part motion was the very first meeting of the current Council covering MRAP issues. The first part of your motion sets a timeline that is aggressive, proactive and final. You cited “symbolism” as your (strongest) consideration. What damage did you see that symbolism doing to Davis and its residents? I could have supported you motion if (1) the words “within 60 days” had been removed and (2) the order of the three steps had been Review … Proceed … Direct. Armed with the input from those three steps the Council would have had the information it needed to make a decision, and the community would have had the chance to conduct a dialogue about the issues.

            The other aspect of your motion that concerned me was the practicality of disposing of the MRAP “within 60 days.” We are now 18 days into that 60 day period. That leaves only 42 remaining days for Staff to formulate and execute the disposal effort. Are you expecting Staff to effect the disposal in the same manner that the acquisition was accomplished … with no Council input? Do you really think the Federal Government is going to be able to complete its paperwork regarding the repossession of the MRAP in that short 60-day timeline? What happens if we reach your 60 day deadline and the Feds are unwilling to take the MRAP back.

            Bottom-line, why the “rush to judgment”?

          3. DT Businessman

            “Proceed with a public update of public safety issues related to active shooter situations and warrants, and consider alternatives that do not represent the repurposing of a military vehicle to face them.”

            Alternative #1: Install loud speakers projecting taped City Council meetings until active shooter cries “uncle!”.

            Alternative #2: If alternative #1 doesn’t work, 30 minutes of medwoman and active shooter is certain to surrender.

            -Michael Bisch

          4. Edgar Wai

            Hello Robb,

            I don’t know if you had read any comments I made, but this statement does not make any sense:

            “On another point that has been raised in relation to the MRAP—the “responsibility for harm”, I would note the following. For any decision we as a council make, if I vote for an action I am ultimately responsible for the consequences of my vote and our decision. How could it be otherwise?”

            How exactly can the council “take responsibility” when an officer is killed because of that?

            I have been trying to tell you that you are making a decision that you cannot afford to take responsibility. That makes that type of decision unethical to make. That is an abuse of decision making power.

            The council needs to recognize that many decision they may legally make are not ethically affordable. The council needs to learn to frame the issues so that decisions are made by people who can afford to make them.

          5. Robb Davis

            Edgar – I have read all comments here. In a representative democracy an elected official is “responsible” in the sense that s/he must weigh all decisions in the broader context of what a given decision might mean for the wellbeing of the community (i.e. beyond the narrow decision at hand). Responsibility also means that if the community feels that the elected official’s actions harms the community, the community has the means to remove this person from office.

            I disagree with you that if the police (or any entity) request a given resource elected official should give it to them because they (the police) bear the direct responsibility for (risks associated with) implementation. That could lead to absurd and costly outcomes. Elected officials weigh options and consider what is best overall given uncertainty and risk of inaction or of action. That is what I did in this case.

        3. Tia Will


          “governance by intimidation.”

          Robb has posted very eloquently with regard to his own thought process.
          I want to re iterate that the MRAP decision was not based on intimidation. I know this to be true because I was very quick with my email to the city council members, days before the strong display of opposition by the community at City Council. Four of them responded to me, three having already formed strong negative opinions on their own and one taking a somewhat more wait and see stance. I see absolutely no evidence of intimidation having made a difference in anyone’s vote on Tuesday.

          1. DT Businessman

            Hm, very quick email you say. And 100 plus postings per day. All the while open minded. Does not compute. Does not compute. Does not compute.

            -Michael Bisch

  10. Biddlin

    I’m still waiting to see how they “return” it. I suppose they could haul it to a nearby National Guard armory, park it and drop the keys in the mail slot.

  11. theotherside

    There are a significant number of Iraq and Afghan vets currently employed as police officers, not only in the country but locally too. They were trained with military weapons. They were trained to kill if need be. They are quite militarized and one could argue dangerous. Also can be quite intimidating. I am surprised there has not been a call to scrap them with the equipment.

    Please read into my sarcasm, as they are welcomed into the brotherhood.

  12. Tia Will


    Computes perfectly for me. I am fine with someone forming a preliminary opinion which I believe each of the majority did from our communications. The key for me is for each to remain open to the possibility of a change of mind if convincing evidence was presented. As I have stated, I believe that I was probably more anti MRAP than any of the CC members, and yet I could have been persuaded had a strong case of factual evidence ( rather than speculative examples) had been presented along with demonstration of need ( number of times the previous armored vehicle had been used for example) and similar data that I have posted a number of times. This opinion can be verified by listening to my comments at CC should anyone think that I am making it up after the fact. It is very hard to “pander” when you have already publicly expressed your opinion and then stood by it.

  13. Anon

    To Robb Davis: You say it is not your responsibility to take the temperature of the populace to figure out what they want; and yet your motion on the MRAP issue specifically states you want to hold public participatory forums to exchange ideas on the options. More importantly, you are asking for public input on essentially how to run the police department, from folks who are not necessarily knowledgeable on the subject and are not the ones putting their lives on the line in dangerous situations. So frankly, I am not particularly impressed with your position of saying you do not take the public temperature on issues at the same time you call for public forums to obtain public input – it does not hang together logically. Nor do I think it appropriate for the public or City Council to micromanage the police department if the police department is doing a fine job, which you have insisted they have done. You cannot have it both ways, or as is the situation here, three or four different ways.

    To Tia: IMO “governance by intimidation” can also occur when City Council members get flooded with vehement emails prior to a City Council meeting on an issue, and instead of weighing the options in a thoughtful manner by giving both sides the opportunity to present sufficient evidence, instead come to the table with their mind already made up before hearing the other side (which is essentially what Robb Davis appears to have done – he said nothing would have persuaded him to accept the MRAP under any circumstances), with the City Council assuming that the flood of emails somehow represents the majority of citizens and/or represents the best decision – without giving the issue a fair hearing.

    To Matt: Tia spoke very well to what in our view is your flawed argument of the fluoridation issue in regard to the pro-fluoride side, and the WAC which voted heavily in favor of fluoridation certainly did not agree with you. I have no idea why you would denigrate the WAC’s decision on fluoridation as “Much Ado About Nothing”. The WAC was asked to make a recommendation to the City Council on the issue, and that is precisely what the WAC did. And as I pointed out before, I believe the primary reason the City Council came to the decision it did on fluoridation was from a fear of a threatened referendum against the surface water project if the City Council dared to vote in favor of fluoridation – which had absolutely nothing to do with the evidence on the fluoridation. Instead it was “governance by intimidation” by the threat of a referendum/initiative/lawsuit. Had I been in the City Council’s shoes at the time, I very well may have made the same decision, but it is getting to be a disturbing trend. We saw the same disturbing trend play out in the water rate structure wars.

    1. Matt Williams

      I have no idea why you would denigrate the WAC’s decision on fluoridation as “Much Ado About Nothing”.

      Anon, I am not denigrating the WAC’s decision. Although I was out of state and not able to participate in the final meeting where the vote was taken, I fully support that decision. Could the process have been better, with better information presented by both the Yes and No sides? Yes. Could the WAC itself have made the process better? No.

      The WAC didn’t orchestrate the actors on the stage. Those actors orchestrated themselves.

      The WAC processed the information they were provided, weighed that information, and made their decision. I agree with you that the WAC did precisely what the Council asked the WAC to do, and I completely concur with your assessment of the primary reason the Council did what they did in the final decision.

    2. Robb Davis

      Anon – My purpose in seeking community forums is to enable the police and the public to have the opportunity to discuss together the public safety challenges which, heretofore, have not been fully discussed. It is not a “temperature taking” activity but one to build understanding of what the challenges and needs are. I am NOT seeking public opinion about how to run the police force but asking the police to bring the community along in its understanding of the challenges it faces. That is all. I am neither seeking public input in the best ways to accomplish the police force’s mission nor trying to set policy in a public forum. I am merely trying to create a venue in which mutual understanding can be increased. I see no downside to that and I believe the police are very happy to be involved.

      I disagree with you that I am trying to micromanage the police of this city. You have alluded to this in other posts and I disagree because it is my responsibility to assess decisions made by all departments in terms of their impact on the well being of the city overall. The police, (or the fire department, or public works, etc.) are not exempt from an analysis of how decisions they take affect the broader needs of the city. To assess a police department decision as placing at risk the trust between them and the citizens (which is what I did in this case) and make a decision to try to secure that trust is my responsibility. Of course my decision in this case was based on my judgment and you and others are welcome to disagree with my judgment. But it IS a judgment and it is made because of a larger picture concern I have. That is a far cry from trying to micromanage the police, something I have absolutely no interest in doing (just as I have no interest in micromanaging any department).

      1. Anon

        So you only have public forums solely to educate the public? You are not interested in the opinions of the public?

        Your judgment on MRAP was made prior to hearing the evidence. That is not good governance IMO.

        1. Robb Davis

          Anon – Obviously it depends on the issue re: amount of time spent on education versus garnering opinions, but one thing I have learned is that when adults gather to learn there will always be expressions of opinion. Notice I said I was not interested in collecting opinions about how to run the police. To suggest, however, that such a meeting would be an “opinion-free” zone would be ludicrous. However, stating CLEARLY the purpose of the event will be critical and I have offered to work closely with the police to assure their needs and the needs of citizens are met. This will be a collaborative effort.

          I am unsure how you know that my judgment on MRAP was made prior to hearing the evidence. Do you know what my due diligence process was? Do you know how long I have been thinking about these issues? Do you know the work I have done to reduce conflict and build trust throughout my career? Perhaps I did not use a process that you would prefer but I did gather evidence before rendering a judgment and that evidence gathering goes beyond this particular event. I feel I have done sufficient work to render a judgment but understand that you may not agree.

          1. Michelle Millet

            Perhaps I did not use a process that you would prefer but I did gather evidence before rendering a judgment and that evidence gathering goes beyond this particular event.

            My guess from knowing Robb is that he has spent 100 times more time researching this issue then everyone on this blog combined.

          2. Anon

            To Robb Davis: You said you had your mind made up about the MRAP before hearing what the police chief said at the City Council meeting.

          3. Matt Williams

            Anon, to the best of my knowledge Robb and the police chief communicated one-to-one as part of Robb’s homework/due diligence process and then again before the Council meeting. I believe the police chief provided Robb with all the information from the Council presentation in those one-to-one communications.

            EDIT: I see that Robb has confirmed the above in another post.

          4. Robb Davis

            Anon – I met with the police on this issue a week before the meeting and had email exchanges with the chief before the meeting also. Our conversation was essentially the same as what the chief presented at the meeting.

  14. Tia Will


    I appreciate your point of view and take exception.
    1.Recent historical data from Davis was available with regard to a relevant fact, how many lives had been saved by
    our own armored vehicle. The police chose not to present this information. More readily available facts would be
    how much was the cost of maintenance of the former armored vehicle. How many hours were spent training in its
    use. This would be very relevant since the police chief said that he anticipated the two would be similar.
    2. I disagree that data from cities from other communities like Davis could not have been obtained. If after a search
    such data could not be obtained, that in itself becomes data because then the police are honest and forth coming
    in saying “there is no history on this, we are just asking that you believe us that this is a good idea. Then the
    decision is being made openly in collaboration with the available facts including absence of information as opposed
    to speculation presented as fact.
    3. The gloves analogy has some weaknesses ( as you previously pointed out to me, all analogies do). Particularly,
    one is only obligated to prevent against feasible injury. For example, doctors , nurses and scrub techs do wear
    gloves and light water proof gowns when operating. What we do not wear are full antimicrobial suits. Why ?
    Because the risk of Ebola or some similar disease is so low ( not zero, but extremely low). It has nothing to do
    with not caring about the safety of our health care workers, it is just that the money, time and effort are much
    better spent preventing more likely mishaps.

    1. Edgar Wai

      Your three points can are addressed like this:

      1. Recent Historical Data: There are three fallacies about the demand of having recent historical data to make a decision that makes the DEMAND impractical.

      1.1) The first fallacy is that the lack of occurrence ( the police cited 43 times ) made it difficult to analyze the truth effectiveness.
      1.2) The second fallacy is that even when a situation does occur, unlike doing experiments on petri dishes, it could be difficult to know determine the role of the MRAP in making the situation better or worse. In previous comments you have rejected the use of anecdotes as evidence that the MRAP was helpful. Therefore, it is necessary to ask how many incidents you expect the police to encounter, what kind and quantity of injuries and deaths you will need to see before you find it reasonable to believe that MRAP could be averted those.
      1.3) The third fallacy is that even by answering the questions on the parameters of the required experiment, it cannot explain WHO should cover the cost (injuries and deaths) of that forced experiment when the police could have gotten the MRAP, nor the reasoning to return the MRAP, thus making it impossible to compare or know what would actually happen if it is used in an incident in Davis.

      2. Using relative data from another community: For this perspective, I don’t think the police has any research advantage other than using Google, which, any of us could do. Arguably, the police does not need to Google to come out with evidence because they themselves were already involved in using SWAT, doing search warrant, etc. In the current situation, since the council decided to take the MRAP away, the burden of research is actually on the side of the opposition. There is nothing preventing you from getting the data to show that the MRAP was dangerous. If done prior to the council decision, such data might have convinced the police to return the MRAP themselves. It is one demand to want evidence. It is a separate demand to want the police to get the evidence. As I have explained, the duty is to on the side of the police because they have anecdotes and they have volunteered to test the MRAP themselves.

      3. Protection choice: In this case, I don’t think the hospital could do anything if a nurse decides to wear more protection to do her job. Full suits can be hot. A nurse would not want to wear it normally unless it is “required” or that they want to wear it. The decision is with the nurse himself. The nurse deciding not to wear more is a very different decision than the hospital PROHIBITING extra protection. If money is the matter, then you are saying that the nurse are allowed to bring their own disposable/clean certified full wear to use at work. In the case of the MRAP, this means that the police could have kept the MRAP if they agree to pay for any extra cost higher than keeping the Swambulance. Such decision would be aligned to assigning responsibility to whoever is due.

      1. Tia Will


        Thanks for the reply. I would like to clarify some points.

        1. “. In previous comments you have rejected the use of anecdotes as evidence that the MRAP was helpful.” I have not rejected the use of anecdotes. What I have rejected is the use of speculation about how an MRAP might be useful. I would have accepted either anecdote ( which I am using to mean individual recountings of actual events) in which either our own armored vehicle in our community, or an MRAP in a similar community had factually saved lives.
        No such anecdotes were forth coming from the police.

        2. I do not believe that your claim that the police would have no more evidence than we could gain through Google is valid any more than I would believe that you, without any kind of specialized knowledge or consultation could gain about the technicalities, efficacy , and alternatives of specialty surgical equipment use. For example, the police chief has the knowledge and ability to obtain first hand information by consulting with his colleague police chiefs about their experiences with the MRAPs, something that it would be very difficult if not impossible for the private citizen to do.

        3. Protection choice. On this you are in error. If the nurse chooses protective equipment that she believes makes her safer, but in fact puts the patient or other personnel at increased risk then the hospital could certainly refuse to let her use it. One example. Let’s say that what the gloves the nurse wants to use are very stiff completely fluid resistant gloves which hamper her ability to handle instruments rapidly and with great precision as is needed in surgery because she “feels safer” with them on. The hospital would not allow this since it would place patients at risk during surgery. Likewise, if the hospital felt that the equipment was unnecessarily expensive for the amount of risk incurred ( my previous example of the head to toe contamination suit for Ebola) the hospital could certainly refuse to pay for it. You are correct only if the equipment chosen by the nurse passes hospital policy would she be allowed to use it even if she were paying for it herself, which is not the case with the police, since their budget is provided by the taxes of citizens.

  15. Tia Will


    ” the difference here is facts and science.”

    It would be very hard for me to believe that you believe this given your maintenance of the position that water fluoridation was an attempt to “poison” our children, a position that you only disavowed once the vote had gone your way. Now some who got up before city council may have truly believed this, but I have strong evidence that you do not unless you were making an attempt to poison your own children with enough fluoride to cause them to have fluorosis as you yourself stated. I believed when I spoke before council, and I believe now, that the science was on the side of fluoridation as one feasible strategy to obtain optimal levels of fluoride for all who chose to use it. Speculation, a lack of appreciation for the importance of dosage, margin of safety, confusion of correlation with causation, and a failure to understand the difference between individual and public health initiatives were the primary drivers of the fluoride debate as well as the broader political calculations brought up by Anon.

    1. Barack Palin

      Wow, does the MRAP shoot out fluoridated water? Did I miss something? Why are some posters often allowed to veer way off topic while other posters will get immediately pounced on when they do?

      1. Matt Williams

        BP, the discussion was about the MRAP decision process and a comparison was made to the Fluoridation decision process and the Mace 391 decision process. Anon misread my comment about the fluoridation process which caused an extra round of clarification posts, but if you read one of the prior posts I said to Tia, “With that said, I suspect Don may be thinking that we have gotten somewhat off topic by discussing fluoridation, so I’m going to leave my comments lay as they are said above, with full appreciation of the point of view you have shared.” We were self-policing.

        As Don has pointed out, if any of us have concerns about moderation policy, they should be addressed to him or David directly.

    2. Frankly

      Fluoride is a toxin and a poison based on the FDA. Just look at your toothpaste container for proof. And before I have to read about PPM quantities, note that the same can be said for arsenic.

      And the connection with fluoride and the MRAP is clearly the perceived safety and well-being of the community. And I will admit to one point in comparison… there is very little probability that the MRAP would be needed in Davis… just as there is very little probability that fluoride is needed in Davis.

      Someone I know pledged $10,000 to help fund alternative methods to get fluoride to children that need it. Guess what?… he has not been able to complete that pledge because nobody can find any of those children in Davis.

      1. Michelle Millet

        Someone I know pledged $10,000 to help fund alternative methods to get fluoride to children that need it. Guess what?… he has not been able to complete that pledge because nobody can find any of those children in Davis.

        There are plenty of children in Davis who need it. I’m sorry that no one has found a way to have this generous contribution spent on them.

        1. Frankly

          Well you must help identify them, because the non-profits that claimed they existed have gone dark when asked to facilitate identifying them.

          I think the problem is that fluoride toothpaste is inexpensive and everyone is using it.

      2. Anon

        LOL What was stopping the opponents of fluoridation of the water from raising $10,000 to fund a mobile dental clinic? But they have thus far failed in carrying through on that promise. And by the way, there are many children in Davis with a mouth full of cavities that are not getting treated.

        Secondly, I pursued the fluoridation issue as an example of governance by intimidation, which I believe is much of the reason City Council members voted against MRAP and fluoridation of the water, and noted governance by intimidation was becoming a disturbing trend in Davis.

        1. Frankly

          Anon – What the opponents to fluoride in the water claimed has been proven… that there are not any kids in Davis that lack access to fluoride… either in inexpensive toothpaste, or existing public assistance for healthcare benefits that include dental services.

          Now if only the MRAP opponents can prove their claims that the tool would never be needed… I hope for their sake they will be right.

        2. Matt Williams

          LOL What was stopping the opponents of fluoridation of the water from raising $10,000 to fund a mobile dental clinic? But they have thus far failed in carrying through on that promise.

          Anon, I believe you are 100% wrong in that assertion. My understanding is that the $10,000 was raised prior to the Council decision, maybe even prior to the WAC recommendation decision. What makes you think that the opponents have failed to raise the money?

          I don’t have a dog in this hunt, but I do think that statements made here in the Vanguard should wherever possible be accurate.

          1. Tia Will

            Anon and Matt

            To clarify since I was in attendance at the meeting in which the $10,000 dollar offer ( which by the way I deeply appreciated ) was made, I will state that the offer was made prior to the council decision.

            However, as I have previously pointed out, this amount will cover the cost of one new dental chair without any provision for the remainder of a vehicle, any additional instruments or medications, any professional services which a number of professionals are already providing on a volunteer or reduced rate basis. As such it would best be considered a seed fund which would have to be matched by many others to have any appreciable impact.

            Although I have not investigated this myself personally, for the reason that I already stated, I would be very surprised if the real reason that the
            $ 10,000 dollar offer has not been utilized is that there is not a good mechanism in place for utilizing this particular offer. There may be any number of reasons for that, but I do not believe that demonstrated lack of need is one of them. Perhaps Alan Pryor as the head of the anti fluoride group, or Brett Lee who had ( to his credit) sought an alternative, albeit not a public health alternative, would like to weigh in since I believe that they will have more specific information. Actually an article on what steps have been taken would be really good since I am way off topic and should not be furthering discussion of fluoride on this thread.

          2. Anon

            To Matt: An offer of $10,000 was made an individual. In so far as I am aware, that person has not forked over a dime toward a mobile clinic. Then the opponents said they would raise the money for a mobile dental clinic. In so far as I am aware, that has not happened either. As far as I am aware, the only thing that has been done is a plan to hand out free sugar free gum that encourages salivation.

          3. Matt Williams

            Anon, that topic needs an article all of its own. Since it is off topic, lets let it rest. To the best of my knowledge the $10,000 has not been accepted by the dental care delivery community

          4. Barack Palin

            There you go, we could use the MRAP to drive around town having someone throw sugar free gum from the turret to help with dental disease. How’s that for tying the MRAP in to keep things on topic?

      3. Tia Will


        Your assertion, presented as fact, that there are no children in Davis in need of fluoride will certainly come as a surprise to the pediatricians and dentists that are supplying it in prescription form at much greater cost than would be incurred by putting a demonsrtated safe amount in the water. You are also demonstrating my point about not appreciating the difference between a public health approach and just providing a few more individuals with care.

        Also, a more apt analogy than arsenic, would be that Tylenol in unsafe dosages is also a poison. The fact that no one was suggesting using unsafe dosages seems to have allueded you.

        Again, as with the MRAP what is being ignored by those who would use their emotional response be it “feeling safer” or “not caring about our police” as one poster keeps implying, is that these are emotional, not fact based arguments, just as was the case with the anti-fluoride group.

  16. Tia Will


    My comments were not about fluoride per se, but rather about consistency in decision making being based on scientific evidence vs emotionalism in making decisions on the local level. I see a relationship between the two which you may not be perceiving.

    As Don has pointed out, if either of us have concerns about moderation policy, they should be addressed to him or David directly.

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