Commentary: Moving Toward A Regional Approach to MRAP

It was instructive for me to read the recent editorial in the Woodland Daily Democrat about their own discussions about the MRAP. As Jim Smith writes, “The possibility of Woodland acquiring a Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle came up during a recent City Council meeting and there was the immediate — and predictable — reaction from the public: What the heck does Woodland need a MRAP for anyway?”

If that sounds familiar, it leads me to wonder and believe that there might be a better approach, and that is the alternative to Davis, Woodland and West Sacramento all having their own reconstituted former military vehicles.

Mr. Smith continues, “From my perspective I was tempted to think the council were merely acting like children who want new toys. Offer any kid a new toy and there’s the immediate response of wanting it — and using it. Look, by now nearly everyone has feelings about the use of cast-off military vehicles being used in situations involving civilians. Woodland isn’t Iraq. Nor is Davis, where popular outcry may result in having an MRAP — ordered years earlier and only delivered within the last month or so — returned.”

He adds, “An MRAP is an all-together different thing. It’s a $600,000 fully armored ‘toy’ that has the potential of being able to move police into a hazardous situation. There’s no sign that Woodland will get the hardware yet. And we trust that our police would use it only in the most extreme cases. But who knows?”

But then again, just as in Davis, there is a basic need for something.

Jim Smith writes: “And here’s the basic problem: Woodland already has an ‘assault’ vehicle, which is an old armored car dressed up with Kevlar that is used to transport police into those relatively few dangerous situations to protect both the officers and civilians. It’s probably been used fewer than two or three times in the past five years. But it’s old. It was bought in 2006 (for about $10) from the Colusa County SWAT team, where it was already used. Its age is 30 years. Few of us drive cars that old.

“Bellini also told the council that inspectors from the California Highway Patrol have said the vehicle’s air brakes need to be replaced. It was also made to transport money not people. It needs to be replaced.

“If typical protocols are followed, it could cost the city hundreds of thousands of dollars to buy a new armored vehicle. So, the choice is whether to get an MRAP for free or use precious city dollars to buy something else.”

From the perspective of Davis, the rhetoric was always, look we hope we never have to use this thing, but if the situation arises, we would like to have it. The problem is that, a few weeks later, we saw the raid at the Royal Oak mobile home park and suddenly the police were pointing out that the armored vehicles we had access to were not sufficient and they broke down.

Suddenly the MRAP is not a vehicle for rare use in the active shooter situation, it is the vehicle we use to serve high-risk warrants.

So, how many times a year is the need going to arise for the police to serve a high-risk warrant? Some have suggested that we simply give our MRAP to Woodland and use it when the need arises, but that misses the point of those who object to the militarization of police. It limits militarization in Davis, but only Davis.

Just as we have joint power authorities and regional solutions for other issues, to me it makes most sense to have a regional solution to armored vehicles.

For the use of high-risk warrants, the cities in Yolo County are often working in concert anyway. To use the Royal Oak raid as an example, participants were YONET, Davis Police, Yolo County Sheriff, Woodland Police, West Sacramento Police, Yolo County Probation, CDCR, Yolo County Bomb Squad, Sacramento Police Department, and  the California Highway Patrol.

There you have it – so why don’t the cities in Yolo County get together, purchase a vehicle or two that can be used for raids and have a joint powers agreement on the use of both the vehicle and a regional SWAT?

The armored vehicle could then be a non-military vehicle and it would have much more frequent use than vehicles that resided in each of the cities independently.

The respondents might interject that, while that sounds like a good solution for high-risk warrants, what about the active shooter situation?

Matt Williams points out that the point where the Peacekeeper would arrive on the scene of the active shooter incident in Davis, is between 45 minutes and an hour. He noted that at Columbine in 1999, the shooting began at 11:19 a.m. and the event ended at 12:08 p.m. That is an elapsed time of 49 minutes, which means a West Sacramento-based vehicle would still be en route to the scene of the incident. “Those are very practical realities in an active shooter situation,” he writes.

But it is not clear that such a vehicle would matter at all. At Columbine, while the situation was prolonged, documented reports show that there were no further injuries after 11:35, 16 minutes into the incident, suggesting that no response by the police was going to make much difference in that incident.

The Isla Vista situation similarly would not have likely been prevented by an MRAP. Elliot Rodger back in May began the spree by stabbing three men. He then left the scene in his car, shot four people outside of sorority house, then sped through the town of Isla Vista, shooting at pedestrians and wounding several. He exchanged gunfire with police, receiving a gunshot wound before crashing his car into a parked vehicle and shooting himself.

Someone used the example of the Stockton bank robbery, but that turned into a high speed chase where the MRAP, again, would have had little use.

My point here: I think planning for the highly unlikely situation of an active shooter scenario is problematic because, in a lot of previous instances, an MRAP would have been of little use.

The most frequent use is the high-risk warrants and, in that case, having a regional supply of armored vehicles makes the most sense from the standpoint of cost and usage.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

About The Author

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

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  1. theotherside

    “Suddenly the MRAP is not a vehicle for rare use in the active shooter situation, it is the vehicle we use to serve high risk warrant.”

    One only needs to look at the pictures of the guns recovered during the Royal Oaks warrant service to realize an armored vehicle is necessary for officer transport during high risk warrant service.  I recall seeing pictures of military style rifles seized during that raid.  I hate the thought of those officers limping into that in a 30 year old peacekeeper that’s barely running.

    If we are sighting examples, let’s go back to the original call that begged police to have better fire power, North Hollywood.  LAPD had to commandeer an armored bank car to go in and rescue downed civilians and officers.  Not every situation is the same and I would rather have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.

    Another example would be last year’s Roseville shootout and barricaded suspect.  Multiple MRAPs were used to surround the shooter and house officers.  Safe conclusion to that one.

    You want a regional vehicle?  You have it already.  I cannot wait to see the comments the first time the Davis/W Sac Armored Rescue Vehicle rolls through Davis during a warrant service.

    The basic fact is, you didn’t want it and now you don’t have it… so why?

    1. South of Davis

      theotherside wrote:

      > One only needs to look at the pictures of the guns recovered during the Royal

      > Oaks warrant service to realize an armored vehicle is necessary for officer

      > transport during high risk warrant service.

      If you want to “catch” the bad guys (vs. giving them a chance to run out the back door and get away on the bike trail) you don’t roll up in a MRAP (or Tank) and yell at them to turn themselves in over the loudspeaker from the safety of the MRAP…

      1. Frankly

        It would depend on the circumstances, but the tactic would be to position officers outside a shooting perimeter first, and then roll the MRAP in close.  If the guy runs those on the outside perimeter can capture him or take him out if necessary.   I don’t know any case where a known dangerous warrant situation was done with a single patrol vehicle.

        1. Matt Williams

          Frankly, your description works well if the occupants choose “flight” but not so well if the occupants choose “fight” as the North Hollywood Bank robbers chose.

    2. Rich RifkinWDE 73

      It seems to me the case at the Royal Oak Manufactured Home Community is proof the MRAP was not needed. They got all those guns without it. But if they had approached with that war machine, they might have triggered a tragic firefight.

      Effective policing is a lot more about patience and psychology than it is about removing all possible risk for the cops. Obviously, if our police officers are being outgunned because they have inadequate equipment, the DPD will have to upgrade its materiel. But the greater the barrier you erect between the cops and the community, the risk for misunderstandings of intentions proportionately grows. And when you attempt to make police work safe, when you train cops to be risk-averse, you get all sorts of bad outcomes, as cops begin to think that they serve themselves and not their community. That is human nature.

      In my opinion, the reason why the proportion of cops killing civilians has gone up so dramatically* relative to the total violent crime rate is entirely for this reason: We have trained our police to be excessively risk-averse, and the danger is thus thrust on those they encounter, innocent or otherwise.

      *In case you don’t read my column, know this: The rate of violent crimes in California has fallen dramatically for the last 20 years. Murders, robberies, assaults, rapes, etc. are all way, way down. Yet the rate of cops killing civilians has held steady, as best we know. It may have gone up, in fact, but the state does not keep the numbers for unjustified homicides by cops.

      1. Davis Progressive

        you make several important points here.  first, that we didn’t need the mrap at royal oak.  second, that there isn’t a clear need based on increasing crime.

        what hasn’t been explored sufficiently is the possibility that you note – that the mrap could actually end up escalating a situation rather than de-escalating.  police like their toys.  when they first got tasers, they used them excessively and sometimes indiscriminately in situations that didn’t call for them.  that’s my concern here.

        1. Tia Will


          what hasn’t been explored sufficiently is the possibility that you note – that the mrap could actually end up escalating a situation rather than de-escalating.”

          We have two documented episodes in which the police themselves and or investigative agencies after the fact determined that police actions and or equipment had ended up escalating the situation.

          1. The WTO protests in Seattle

          2. The pepper spraying incident on the UCD campus

          While neither of these involved the Davis PD ( in the use of excessive or exacerbating force), I do not believe that our police department, regardless of their good intentions would be immune to the possibility of such mistakes. I believe that the MRAP has the potential for such escalation.

          1. Matt Williams

            Tia, the Davis Police Force has had an MRAP since 1990 (or before). How many times in those 24 years has posession/use of that MRAP resulted in escalation?

            Additionally, as noted in my earlier post, in response to the North Hollywood Shootout situation, the Davis Police have had an assault rifle mounted in each police vehicle since 1997. How many times in those 17 years has possession/availability of that assault rifle resulted in escalation?

            I think expansion of the decision data set is warranted.

        2. Davis Progressive

          exactly tia.  frankly will come on here and say there you go again, you’re anti-cop.  the fact is, i’m not anti-cop, i work with cops everyday.  any group has the capacity to overestimate their ability for restraint at critical moments.

          1. Matt Williams

            I agree with your point DP. I am not anti-cop or pro-cop. Further, I think the probability of an active shooter situation in Davis is so low that continuing to locate the joint Davis/West Sac SWAT Team’s armored vehicle in the same location it has been located since 1990 is the appropriate decision.

        3. Matt Williams

          DP, based on my interview with Chief Black, I disagree with your statement that the Peacekeeper was not needed at Royal Oak. The police had confirmed the presence of assault weapons at Royal Oak, so the chances of an active shooter situation and wounded citizens/officers in an active field of fire was real. Fortunately, that did not happen, but the combined forces who executed the Royal Oak event took precautions. Seems reasonable to me to take those precautions.

        4. Matt Williams

          DP, when you say “police like their toys” I think you are painting with a very broad brush.

          To bring the concept you have laid out into a Davis reality it is worth looking at the proactive step that Davis Police took after the February 1997 North Hollywood armed confrontation between two heavily armed and armored bank robbers and officers of the Los Angeles Police Department. Specifically, that event demonstrated that the weaponry fire power carried by the police was significantly less than the weaponry fire power carried by the robbers. As a result, the City of Davis Police Department made a policy decision that each police vehicle would be equipped with appropriate weapons that would be equivalent to the weapons that they were likely to face. Those rifles were mounted in each police vehicle. Since the procurement of those “police toys” in 1997 how many times have any of them been used/fired? Chief Black, in my interview with him last week, told me that the number of uses/firings since 1997 is zero. Very fiew communities in the United States can make that statement. I personally believe that is a “fine brush” piece of evidence that should be taken into consideration when we evaluate our local situation.

        5. South of Davis

          Matt wrote:

          > DP, when you say “police like their toys” I think you

          > are painting with a very broad brush.

          Just about all males like “toys” (guns, cars, trucks, tanks, etc.) and I have never met (or heard of) a cop that does not like the many cool toys/tools used in law enforcement.

          > We have two documented episodes in which the police

          > themselves and or investigative agencies after the fact

          > determined that police actions and or equipment had

          > ended up escalating the situation.

          Don’t forget Waco TX where we spent millions and a couple months to try and get a guy out of an armed compound with tanks when it would have been easier to have a single undercover cop slap cuffs on him when he came to town the next time since he  drove in to town to shop by himself on a regular basis…

          Just like when a flight instructor asks a new student where he would land if the engine quit most new students go in to “emergency” mode and almost never think of the best place to land (the airport they just took off from) cops also often go in to “emergency” mode and forget that it will be easier to arrest an unarmed guy in the Safeway parking lot next time he drives to get more beer than to roll multiple MRAPs and try and take him out of his armed compound.

          1. Matt Williams

            SoD, I agree with your liking toys assessment. However, liking toys is a whole lot different than abusing toys. The joint Davis/West Sac SWAT Team has a documented history of how they have used the current MRAP. In my interview with him last Thursday, Chief Black shared with me that the existing MRAP has been deplyed by the joint SWAT Team 43 times over the last 5 years (the most recent being to Royal Oak). 75% of those 43 have been in West Sacramento and 25% in Davis. That is a rather low number of deployments, and to the best of all of our knowledge the 43 have all been uses, not abuses. It appears that if they “like” their existing MRAP “toy” then they are doing so within well considered boundaries.

        1. Rich RifkinWDE 73

          No one does. The FBI does not and neither does the Calif. Dept. of Justice. However, there is a group, probably biased, but I don’t know for sure, which has been documenting all police killing of civilians in Los Angeles County, whether those killings were justified or not. According to their findings, law enforcement in that county kills one person every 8 days:

          Los Angeles Youth Justice Coalition, a group that advocates for young people in their encounters with criminal justice system, released a new report—prompted by the fatal police shooting of Ezell Ford last month. They found that police killed 589 people in the line of duty between January 1, 2000 and August 31, 2014. That’s about 43 people each year or one person every eight days.


      2. Matt Williams

        Rich, you are missing a few key elements in your argument.

        First, the existing 1990’s model MRAP (model name “The Peacekeeper”) was indeed deployed to the Royal Oak incident by the joint Davis/West Sac SWAT Team. That deployment did not trigger a tragic firefight.

        Second, that deployment of the Peacekeeper was not with the intention of an operational “approaching” but rather as a proactive preparedness if an active shooter situation did occur and there was a citizen or officer wounded and on the ground in the field of fire of the active shooter. The Peacekeeper would have served as a portable shield that could be driven between the shooter and the wounded citizen so that officers could safely remove that wounded citizen from the field of fire, and be provided medical care.

        Third, the event was planned by the police so that the suspects associated with the trailers that contained the assault weapons were approached and arrested at a site that was physically removed from the trailer park prior to any approaching of the trailers. That proactive step further minimized the chances that a tragic firefight could happen.

        Bottom-line, the combined police forces involved in the Royal Oak incident practiced the very patience and psychology that you are calling for.

        With all the above said, the deployment of the Peacekeeper from its joint SWAT Team location in West Sacramento supported the police operations very effectively, and in the future when such proactive preparation for a possible active shooter situation takes place, I would expect similar effective deployment planning.

        In closing, it is worth noting that the Peacekeeper had a mechanical break down on the way to/from the Royal Oak incident. In my interview with Chief Black last week, he said that such physical breakdowns of the Davis/West Sac Peacekeeper are the rule rather than the exception because it had passed the end of its useful life prior to his arrival as Police Chief here in Davis in 2008. In effect, every Peacekeeper deployment is done with a contingency plan for what to do if the Peacekeeper doesn’t arrive on the scene because of a breakdown en route.

        1. Tia Will


          that such physical breakdowns of the Davis/West Sac Peacekeeper are the rule rather than the exception because it had passed the end of its useful life prior to his arrival as Police Chief here in Davis in 2008″

          I completely agree that we should not be forcing our police officers to use a piece of equipment that is subject to breakdown. To me it really is irrelevant the cause of the breakdown ( old age as in the case of the Peacekeeper) or poor or inappropriate design as the MRAP has been criticized for, not by me, but by officers who actually were assigned to its use in the field in Afghanistan. I did not keep the source. Just Google MRAP for multiple complaints about functionality ( as well as praise for saved lives in IED episodes which we presumably would not be encountering here.)


        2. Rich RifkinWDE 73

          Maybe it would be serviced better if Davis, instead of using our extremely overcompensated in-house mechanics, who also service our firetrucks and engines, took it to a much cheaper private shop, which risks losing business if they do a bad job? If you have never been there, I recommend you visit the City of Davis mechanical shop on 5th Street, just west of Pole Line. The shop is in the back, on the south end of the lot. One thing Steve Pinkerton had hoped to do was shut it down and outsource that work. Chances are small that will happen with Pinkerton gone.

          1. Matt Williams

            Rich, since it resides in West Sac, and has since its procurement in 1990, I doubt it gets any service from City of Davis in-house mechanics … whether extremely overcompensated or not.

      3. tribeUSA

        Rich–excellent article–“to protect and serve” must be remembered as applying first to the general population, and second to themselves and fellow policemen. It does seem as though in many cases the balance has shifted toward the police protecting themselves at the expense of the community they are sworn to protect–a couple days ago I read a story about a SWAT team surprise raid (in or near Detroit, I think) where they tossed a flash grenade through a window onto a sofa where a young child was sleeping and singed the head of the child (must have deafened the child as well); the child then sprung up from the sofa at the same time the SWAT team members burst through the front door; and the small child was immediately shot in the head and killed.

        I’m not anticop, and respect that the job they do is difficult; but too often their tactics are putting the public at undue risk; if they are not willing to undergo a modicum of risk themselves, they should seek another profession.

    3. Davis Progressive

      “You have it already.”

      that’s untrue.

      :One only needs to look at the pictures of the guns recovered during the Royal Oaks warrant service to realize an armored vehicle is necessary for officer transport during high risk warrant service.:

      and yet…

    4. Matt Williams

      One only needs to look at the pictures of the guns recovered during the Royal Oaks warrant service to realize an armored vehicle is necessary for officer transport during high risk warrant service. I recall seeing pictures of military style rifles seized during that raid. I hate the thought of those officers limping into that in a 30 year old peacekeeper that’s barely running.

      otherside, I see it the exact opposite way that you do. No armored vehicle is going to be able to deliver the officers to the immediate proximity of the door of the residence they are serving the warrant on. No officer is going to be able to step out of an armored vehicle through the front door of the building. The officers will have to either approach the door on foot or drive the armored vehicle through the wall of the building and have the officers then exit the vehicle inside the building. Clearly the latter isn’t going to happen, so approaching the door on foot is what will happen. If you drive those officers close to the building in an armored vehicle you will be putting the occupants of the building on notice that officers on foot will soon be approaching their door. That gives the occupants time to respond, grab their weaponry, and raise the danger level for the police serving the warrant. it seems to me that it is much better that the armored vehicle remain out of sight (and sound) so the warrant serving officers can approach the door of the building without alerting the occupants to their presence.

      1. theotherside

        DP Not untrue.  The joint Davis/W Sac SWAT team has one.

        …and yet a safe functioning vehicle would have been completely necessary in a worst case scenario such as shots fired.  Just because it was not used does not mean it was not necessary.  I drove 30 miles home yesterday and wore my seat belt.  I was not in an accident thank goodness so I didn’t need to wear it, but would have been necessary had I been involved in a crash.

        MW Yes, that is exactly how the operation goes.  And in the worst case scenario it is used as a rescue vehicle or perimeter position.  I love how when someone is so eager to voice their knowledge or give their opinion they will argue with someone they agree with.

        1. Matt Williams

          I accept your criticism otherside. I was responding to your characterization of the transportation value of the armored vehicle. I should have acknowledged the wisdom of the rest of your comment. I was thinking both/and, rather than either/or, but my words did not reflect my thoughts. My bad. Part of that was because of my interview with Chief Black on Thursday where he and I discussed how the Peacekeeper was deployed at Royal Oak, and why.

  2. Edgar Wai

    A decision to share MRAP would set the victim to the individual citizens who want the “fast response”. The potential delay of police action is not a problem for police personnel safety because they will still be safe when the MRAP arrives from adjacent agency.

    The police doesn’t really have a say on such decision, as the “contract” becomes:

    a) Police can have access to protection of MRAP
    b) For dangerous situations that an APV would be needed, the police does not need to response until they get the MRAP.

    All the issues that the police posed so far are addressed.

    The remaining stakeholders were the individual citizens that want or not want the MRAP. Their reasons are irrelevant. What is relevant is whether they would vouch for taking responsibility of their decision if they were to impose their decision on to their opposition.

    In a situation where 90% of the citizens are against the MRAP, the 90% would have to vouch for any death/damage of the 10% citizens resulting from not having our own MRAP.

    The 10% would have to vouch for any death/damage of the 90% citizens resulting from having our own MRAP used under standard police protocol. (The police is still responsible for misusing the MRAP in that case).

    If the two sides could agree on a monetary compensation level for death, then the decision would become accountable. If one death is valuated at $100K on average, it would take each of the 90% $1.71 to insure their decision for one death (and choose to share the MRAP). For the 10% it would take $15.38 to cover the first death (and choose to have our own MRAP, additional costs of maintaining the MRAP not yet included).

    Every time someone dies, the corresponding fund is paid off and the decision to continue having or not having the MRAP needs to be renewed by having the fund to cover the next death.

    1. Alan Miller

      “Every time someone dies, the corresponding fund is paid off and the decision to continue having or not having the MRAP needs to be renewed by having the fund to cover the next death.”

      Or, just randomly shoot one us who wanted the MRAP run out of town.

  3. Tia Will


    I do not dispute your numbers. I dispute the idea that “after the fact” penalization of those who were “wrong” is the best approach. As a doctor, my primary goal is always going to be prevention. I understand the need to have treatment modalities for those who do become seriously ill. However, I believe that where we should be focusing our efforts is on primary prevention, not secondary or tertiary treatment.

    Seem in this light I would far rather be placing the amount of money needed to acquire, maintain and train folks to use this vehicle into crime prevention, police intelligence, additional officers and collaborative efforts with the surrounding communities.

    Since it is so topical, I will again compare this with our decision making about Ebola. We know it exists. We know that there is currently a 70% death rate.  We know that it is within the US. But what is our best strategy for preventing spread in the US ?  I would strongly argue that the best strategy is not for every community to have its own high tech isolation ward, but rather for us to to utilize demonstrated effective screening processes consistently, intelligence, rapid escalation of information with prompt notification of county and national public health services, containment procedures and immediate collaboration with experienced treatment teams if a case is detected. This approach would be far more effective than acquiring our own containment and treatment center, with all the highly specialized equipment and need for ongoing training and drills necessary to maintain readiness on the off chance an Ebola patient might turn up.

    1. Edgar Wai

      I don’t think my point is about penalty but responsibility. For each decision, there are some responsibilities that should be clear before making the decision.

      A strategy that is viable has to be affordable. That concept is not a concept of penalty. If a decision is not affordable and somehow the community implements it, someone or something would be taking the toll of the decision. It is responsibility to know who will take the toll, and whether that toll can be insured.

      There are two main levels of harm that can be done when a decision is imposed.

      The first level is the goodwill. It is the relation and mutual understanding that the people are trying to find a good solution for everyone as best as they can. The second level is cost, physical damages, injuries, etc.. These are damages that could result to entities (as oppose to a relation between entities).

      When goodwill is upheld, the participants of decision making are evaluating the costs because they don’t want to make a decision that they cannot afford. Comparing decisions this way is not about setting up penalties. It is about estimating the cost of the decisions so that the decision makers don’t make unaffordable decisions.

      In the example you gave about Ebola, your reasoning lack the concept of taking responsibility. If a proposal is posed for the community to choose one of these:

      a) Our community should have our own high tech ward

      b) Our community should have consistent screening and rapid response

      c) Our community should do nothing until we have a confirmed case

      Each of these choices have costs and risks. They should be accounted so that the community members can compare their affordability. Your post only asserted your stance. You did not address what you would do about the people who disagree with you, or how you would be taking responsibility if you were to impose your choice (by authority or by majority rule).

      This kind of analysis is often lacking in decision making. I think we have a culture of revering majority rule and fail to see how it can be a form of oppression and how it can lead to neglected responsibilities.

      Community decision making is not a debate. It is a fact-sharing, concerns-addressing and responsibility-accounting process.

      Between Davis PD having their own MRAP versus sharing a MRAP, I see no way that the Davis PD could refuse the option to share a MRAP. In that option, they are removed from being the victim. A legitimate victim would have to be someone who claim that, “I want Davis PD to have their own MRAP for the fastest possible response time. If you force them not to have it, you have to show that you can afford (vouch) to cover the damage caused by your decision.”

      A response could be this:

      “Since I believe that the situation that requires a fast response is low, and damage to you due to that is also low, I will stand behind my belief and vouch to cover such damage.”

      Concern addressed. Issue resolved.

      Just asserting that something is unlikely to happen is not taking responsibility. Not talking about or not vouching for the belief would shed the responsibility. There are so many opportunities to resolve the issue if we have a culture to cover the risks.

      When you rent a car you have to promise to pay for the damage if you wreck it. Some how when it comes to community decision making, all the responsibility just disappear into a black hole. This is not penalty, this is sizing up the risk and knowing what choices are affordable. If the system let you make decisions you can’t afford, the system is letting you rob someone, either someone that exists now or someone in the future.

      1. Tia Will


        I will accept your position that your intent is not shared penalty but rather shared responsibility. I think that what we have not yet touched on is shared benefit for making a successful preventive policy decision. Using the MRAP as the example. Lets say that we make the decision to have our own MRAP and every other community decides to do the same. Each community thinks that they are getting the MRAP at minimal cost, all the time forgetting that it is their tax dollars that are paying for the MRAPs which the military is now trying to off load.

        Now Matt Williams has said that in the past 5 years our PeaceKeeper was deployed in Davis around 2 times per year. We have no way of knowing from the information provided by the police whether any lives were threatened let alone saved in these ten episodes. If lives were saved, that is wonderful. But what it does not consider is how many lives could have been saved if the money spent on the armored vehicle had been available for other “live saving ” activities that occur in our communities at much greater frequency  Lets put rescue from accident scenes or quicker response to 911 calls, or more medical services into that category.

        One difficulty is that it is easy to measure the lives that are threatened in a high visibility event such as a major drug bust or a single shooter episode. What is not easy to measure are the much less visible but much more common “rescues” or prevention from the need for rescue that occur in our community every day and also need funding. So should we be supporting the high cost and maintenance item that will make news, or should we be putting our efforts ( and dollars) into the much lower profile, but much more likely to be useful prevention strategies.

        For thee moment, reverting back to the Ebola example. Let’s say we decide that every hospital does need its own Ebola containment unit and we spend our money on that. How many lives will we lose to the flu and cardiovascular disease which kill thousands of people annually while we are attempting to address the much higher profile issue of Ebola?

        My position would be that if the police can demonstrate need then such a vehicle for the extremely rare situation should be shared regionally. The money saved would then be available for other endeavors such as enhanced community policing, information gathering, training or access to specialty services ( such as might have prevented the Miramontes tragedy) or other services needed within the community. All communities involved in such a sharing decision would stand to benefit from the savings thus enhancing the benefit of the expenditure to all.

  4. Tia Will


    there you go again, you’re anti-cop.”

    You made me smile. I also am not anti-cop.

    I am no more anti-cop than I am anti-doctor. And yet I am aware that a doctor with a scalpel in hand can be dangerous both to the patient, herself, and all other health care workers at the table.

    We can be dangerous if we are inexperienced, poorly trained in the procedure, encounter circumstances that we were not anticipating, or when we are frightened because of unexpected hemorrhage or other major , life threatening complication. What we need in these circumstances is not a bigger scalpel or rush to precipitous action. What we need is perhaps a moment to deep breathe and lower our pulse rate, another set of experienced eyes on the situation, collaboration with other colleagues and/or departments ( anesthesiology, nursing, the blood bank) so as to de escalate rather than exacerbate the dangerous situation. This certainly does not mean that I hate doctors ( or cops) , but rather that I want to ensure that the methods chosen are truly the safest and most effective for all concerned.

  5. Tia Will


    the Davis Police Force has had an MRAP since 1990 (or before)”

    We did not have an MRAP, and I do believe that there is a substantive difference for a number of reasons.

    1. I do not believe that it is wise to use devices and vehicles in settings for which they were not intended.

    2. I do not believe that it is wise to choose a vehicle which has had known problems in the field for which it was designed and decide without evidence that it will perform better under our circumstances.

    3. I do not believe that it is optimal to off load unnecessary and sub optimally functioning equipment from the military to the civilian population.

    4. If it were decided that a similar type of vehicle, designed specifically for our setting were necessary, then I think that we should consider sharing regionally and we should certainly be willing to pay the cost for what we decide we need. A “freebie” is no bargain if it is not the best instrument for the job at hand ( again doubtful that our police will be encountering IEDs)

    5. I do not believe that it is wise to accept stewardship and maintenance of a vehicle that we do not own. Please note that the MRAP itself remains property of the US government but we are responsible for its usage and maintenance.

    I also do not feel that your question about how long we have already owned an armored vehicle without its having been used as part of “escalation” is meaningful.

    First, unless you have had access to police reports that I have not seen, how do you know that the armored vehicle has never resulted in adverse outcomes ?  I am completely unaware of specifics of its usage in the past and therefore have no way of judging. Did you specifically ask Chief Black about this when you spoke with him ?

    Equally important is the fact that just because something has not occurred does not mean that it will not. Pepper spraying had never occurred on the UCD campus……until it did. This is exactly the same reasoning that is being used by the police in stating that just because there has not been a single shooter episode here in Davis does not mean that there never will be. We have never had a case of Ebola here in Davis. That doesn’t mean that we won’t. After all , there have been three in Texas. That hardly would justify putting an Ebola safe containment ward in Sutter hospital “just in case”. In all cases the point is not whether or not something could ever occur, it is what is the best response to the possibility of the rare event while still honoring all of the other more frequent situations that arise and putting our resources, both human and financial in the places where they are most likely to be effective.

    I would not support a local Ebola isolation ward, and I do not support the MRAP. I may be proved wrong in either or both situations by future events, but that is how I see it now given the evidence provided to date.


    1. Matt Williams

      Tia, regarding your points

      1. I agree. In his report to Council in 2008-2009 regarding the beyond end of life status of the Peacekeeper Chief Black outlined the two available routes for acquiring a replacement. 1) the used vehicle market and 2) the military surplus program, which Davis was already a participant in. Both those alternatives are challenged with respect to original intended use vs. secondary intended use.

      2. Here too I agree. However, based on the information that Chief Black shared with me in my interview with him, the principal reason for the problems encountered in the field was due to the massive weight that both the turret and the bomb-resistant side armor plating add to the vehicle. Both the turret and the armor plating are permanently removed from the vehicle prior to is being placed into service in its secondary intended use. The picture of the MRAP that David has used is with the turret and with the side armor still installed.

      3. I’m confused by the point you are making here. Why is procuring an armored vehicle from the private market for new or used vehicles any different from procuring an armored vehicle from military surplus?

      4. I agree 100%. That sort of arrangement has served the joint Davis/West Sac SWAT Team very well since 1990 (and possible before that). I personally don’t believe that a community dialogue (if we were to actually have one) would result in an end to that cooperative agreement in favor of going it alone.

      5. With the Peacekeeper, which was also procured through the military surplus route, we appear to have been very successfully and without incident maintaining it in that fashion since 1990. Is there something in that 24 year body of evidence that causes you to feel we have been acting sub-optimally during that period?

      As a citizen trying to view the MRAP situation dispassionately and objectively, I reached out to Chief Black and requested an interview. Anon’s comments here in the Vanguard had frequently referenced the existing vehicle and the fact that it was in need of replacement. I asked Anon what the past usage of that vehicle was, and I was told that in order to get that information I would need to speak to the Police Department. So, I chose to do my homework and contacted Chief Black for an appointment. We met last Thursday. I planned on writing an article about the interview, but the dialogue over the past days has caused me to share the information in a more distributed (less centralized) fashion. That doesn’t change the information itself.

      I went into the interview with the suspicion that nothing that Chief Black was going to tell me would change my personal opinion that Davis does not need its own MRAP, and when I left the interview my suspicion had been borne out. The joint/regional approach appears to have served us well and I see no reason not to continue to use that approach.

      With respect to your risk assessment, I believe the fact that the pepper spray incident did happen at UCD has significantly (dare I say massively) decreased the likelihood of the kind of event that you fear happening in Davis. To draw a parallel, I think Chief Black’s concerns about a Columbine-like active shooter incident happening in Davis are very close in likelihood to your concerns about an MRAP abuse. It is worth noting that the City of davis police were also deployed to deal with the Occupy events and they were sufficiently well trained that they were able to discharge their responsibilities without resorting to pepper spray.

      On additional piece of information that came from my interview with Chief Black. The City of Davis is the responsible party for providing Bomb Squad services to all of Yolo County, and under cooperative agreements to the eastern portions of Solano County, as well as being the on-cal Bomb Squad for Colusa County Sutter County and parts of Sacramento County. Currently, the only way for Bomb Squad personnel to discharge their responsibilities is to don 90 pounds of body armor and approach the bomb on foot. With the undercarriage bomb-resistant armor of the MRAP, that risk to Bomb Squad personnel would be substantially mitigated because the MRAP could drive over the top of the bomb and it could be detonated by the the Bomb Squad under the MRAP with full protection to the people involved. With that said, that reduction of bomb detonation risk for both the community and police personnel can be realized through a regional arrangement. it does not have to be a Davis-only arrangement.

      1. Miwok

        Mr Williams,

        I enjoyed reading your response, but a pojnt that jumped out at me:

        you describe in #2 that the armor has been removed from the vehicle and then you claim the vehicle can “MRAP could drive over the top of the bomb and it could be detonated by the the Bomb Squad under the MRAP with full protection to the people involved”. After working with EOD people from Travis for a couple years, I don’t think that is in the play book,  especially if the armor is removed. The funny V shape was developed to direct the blast AWAY from the vehicle.

        In Viet Nam, APC’s weighing 20 tons would be flipped over with a mine, killing all inside from concussion (leading men to walk outside it), and if you do research, the MRAPs are still vulnerable to blasts. It was enlightening to hear you say the armor is removed. If true, then the vehicle is not much use from gunfire or bombs as you say it is.

        1. Matt Williams

          Miwok, I can only relate what I was told by Chief Black … specifically that as used in the military the MRAP has an armored turret on the top, armor plating on its four sides (front, back, left and right) and an armored undercarriage. The West Sac MRAP currently has no turret and no side armor, but continues to have under carriage armor. The Davis MRAP currently no longer has its armored turret, but the removal of the side armor was not commenced when the fate of the MRAP became questionable. Chief Black was explicit that the underlying metal structure was significantly more resistant to bullets than the Peacekeeper … and the West Sacramento MRAP with its bomb resistant outer shell removed was effectively bulletproof vis-a-vis the assault weapons fire that may be directed at it in a firefight like the North Hollywood Shootout.

          With that said, it sounds like you know significantly more than I do on this subject, and I encourage you to contact Chief Black directly in order to discuss the technical issues you are raising. My whole purpose in reaching out to him for the interview was/is to get objective/accurate information out in the dialogue.

          Thank you for engaging the issues.

    2. WTF


      Please identify with specificity the “known problems in the field” that you claim the MRAP has that are  applicable to an urban environment like Davis.  I have two tours in Iraq where I have ridden in a number of military vehicles to include different versions of the MRAP.  I am not aware of any problems with the MRAP that would be relevant in Davis.  Since you are always asking for evidence please provide some that supports you claim.

      Please also identify a vehicle that can be purchased to meet DPD”s needs.  One that has no military application that can be used by both the SWAT team and bomb squad.  If not the MRAP then what is the alternative.  For example the Peacekeeper  was originally used by the Air Force and then turned over to police for use by SWAT.  The Bearcat also has a military application.  You are opposed  to this “freebee” if it is not the best instrument for the job.  Please identify the best instrument for the job.

      Please identify the original use for which the MRAP was designed and how it would differ from the use envisioned for it by the police department’s SWAT team and Bomb Squad.  I see it as a vehicle that can safely transport personnel from one point to another while protecting them from small arms fire and bombs.

      Using your need for evidence of need to justify having the MRAP would you also advocate that the UC Fire Department get rid of the hook and ladder fire  truck.   When was the last time (if ever) it was used to save a life or for entry into a building?  It is costly to maintain and requires two drivers that need ongoing training and practice.  Using your analysis it is an unjustified expense.  Yet it is available if needed.


  6. Tia Will


    Thanks for the thoughtful response.

    As for my discomfort with the acquisition of military supplies for domestic use, this is nothing new. I am very uncomfortable in general with the activities of our “department of defense” which I do not believe is predominantly for defense at all but to ensure that we have the ability to force other less powerful countries to do our will. To me this is a Department of War, not of defense.

    As a pacifist, I strongly object to our overseas imposition of our will on other countries. I realize that this is not a popular stand but it informs the basis of my objection to supporting these action by absorbing what I consider their wasteful spending in ways which provide to our civilian police the ability to treat our own citizens in the manner ( already objectionable to me) that we treat foreign populations.


    1. tribeUSA

      Tia–good expression of points, I see things mainly this way as well (although I would say that there is such a thing as legitimate self-defense and legitimate wars of defence; and even that perhaps there is no such thing as steady-state relations between countries; but rather that the situation is always dynamic with pushing and pulling and testing of strengths/weaknesses between countries; and the weak historically have usually been and it would seem continue to be exploited; i.e. bad behavior often leads to rewards, in this day & age mainly financial, which guarantees its continuance no matter how many pacifists object–structural solutions are likely needed).

    2. South of Davis

      Tia wrote:

      > I am very uncomfortable in general with the activities of our “department of defense”

      > which I do not believe is predominantly for defense at all

      The main purpose of the “department of defense” is to provide high paying jobs to the districts of congressmen (of both parties) that give them money.  The congressman then uses the cool stuff (like the MRAPs that are built in America) to “defend” the profits of US multinational companies (run by donors to both parties) around the world.  When it it time for more profits they give the MRAPs to cities like Davis so they can order new ones.

      Not long ago I read the bio of the Dulles brothers (Secretary of State and Director of the CIA under Eisenhower) and it clearly said that Allen sent the CIA to Guatemala to start a revolution when the government was giving United Fruit a hard time a firm he had represented at Sullivan & Cromwell.

      I joined with my left leaning friends in complaining about all the money Bush was wasting sending out troops to “defend” the profits of multinational oil companies, but now most (including all the  mainstream media) are silent at the “Nobel Peace Prize Winner” bombs even more countries and kills even mote people “defending” the profits of the same companies.

      If you want to learn more about the Department of Defense, not much has changed since (one of my heroes) Major General Smedley Butler wrote a great book explaining everything almost 80 years ago):

  7. Tia Will


    I agree that your examples might be seen in that way. However, in the first example where the wife had already escaped, simply waiting the potential shooter out would probably have sufficed since unless the police push the situation only the man’s life was at risk from suicide..

    There is a stronger case to be made for the case in which the potential shooter states that he saw the armored vehicle and said that was critical in his decision to surrender. However, what we don’t know is what other actions would have caused him to surrender. Would greater numbers  of police have caused him to give up ?  How about a photo of sharp shooters on roofs ? How about a plea from a loved relative ? What we know is that in this circumstance that was the decisive factor, what we do not know is whether another much less costly alternative might have been just as effective. Also, we have other anecdotal instances in which a shooter knowing that there is no escape, panics and kills his hostages and then himself. Anecdotes, as we have both noted in the past are very limited which is why we essentially no longer rely on them as strong evidence in medicine.

    1. Edgar Wai

      There is nothing wrong with talking about alternatives, but such discussion would have to involve the police. The police would need to confirm whether a set of proposed tactics can resolve the situations they believe they need a MRAP for.

      The main comparisons have been these options:

      1. The DPD gets their own MRAP (DPD’s original request)

      2. Davis buys a BearCat for DPD (DPD’s preferred solution if the BearCat is affordable)

      3. Davis share an MRAP with neighbors and park the MRAP outside Davis.

      Since you were talking about alternatives, do you mean that you reject all three options above? Are you trying to add this option:

      4. MRAP is banned from Davis, DPD must use alternate methods.

      If you analyze the “affordability” of option 4, it will probably be the least affordable option because there is no concrete plan to address how DPD will proceed without any access to MRAP. If you pursue that, you are back to the square where officer safety is not addressed, response time is not addressed, and the reduction of service is not addressed.

      To push for option 4, the set of alternative tactics need to be known. Until they are known, that option is the same as sitting on hands doing nothing, and there is a cost for setting a contract like this:

      “Dear DPD, we don’t want you to use the MRAP regardless where it comes from. We want you to replace any tactic involving a MRAP by tactics that are unknown to us. We want you to still handle all the situations that you have always been assigned to handle, but a MRAP cannot set foot in Davis.”

      Pragmatic decision making minimizes risks and drastic changes. To me it would make sense to let the DPD at least share an MRAP, and discuss how to replace each tactic involving an MRAP with alternatives.

      To put things in perspective, if the yearly cost of the shared MRAP is $5000 for DPD, you could give incentive for the DPD to adopt alternatives out of the fund that would have spent on the MRAP. However, when I look at numbers like this, I feel that such cost ($5000) is such a small sum of money that a police officer might not put their life on the line to try the alternatives for the most dangerous situation. Note that even if just one situation requires the MRAP, the DPD would need access that there would be a maintenance cost, and you cannot get rid of the MRAP unless you address all situations that the MRAP could help with an overall cost less than $5000.

      Meeting has cost, consulting as cost, researching for new tactics, getting new tactics qualified, retraining for new tactics all have associated costs. And on top of that there is the time between now and new tactics being employed where either the safety of the police is less covered or some of the police services are suspected. I don’t think it is pragmatic to just flip a switch. There will need to be a buffer time for people to look before they leap.

      When making decisions, it is a fact that no one knows the best possible solution because no one can be all-knowing. A conjecture that there is a better, but unknown, solution out there does not change the cost of non-action. It could convince more people to wait with you and share the cost of waiting, but the cost is still there until everyone agrees to wait.

      I don’t have a problem waiting if everyone else is also waiting. But if someone’s life is at risk because of that wait, I don’t have a justification to force them to wait with me. It depends on whether there are victims of the wait

      1. Tia Will


        I have never claimed that I can see no circumstance in which an armored vehicle designed for use in dealing with a civilian population might be needed. I have a number of problems with the MRAP that I have stated in other posts.

        Of course I believe that the police should be part of a conversation about best methodology just as I believe that city council members and any concerned citizen should be part of the conversation and I certainly believe that all should have been part of the conversation before the decision was made to acquire.

        One thing that you and others do not seem to take into account is that in the opinion of myself and others, it is not a guarantee that the MRAP would save lives. I foresee a possibility that it’s use could also cost lives. So for me while it is possible that someone’s life could be cost by the wait, it is also possible that innocent life could be lost by the acquisition. We have examples which I have posted on other threads of innocent lives lost when police or other law enforcement agencies used excessive force up to and including bombs. Until you and those promoting the MRAP present clear and compelling evidence that this is not a risk ( not possible in my point of view any more than I could present clear and compelling evidence that a single shooter event could not occur) then both the risks of the wait and the risks of abusive use must be weighed.

  8. Tia Will


    To draw a parallel, I think Chief Black’s concerns about a Columbine-like active shooter incident happening in Davis are very close in likelihood to your concerns about an MRAP abuse.

    I agree that the probabilities are likely similar in that they are both very small. There is however a major difference between the two. With our current level of knowledge, we have no way to prevent the Columbine-like active shooter incident from happening. However, it is 100% within our ability to prevent a case of MRAP abuse. No MRAP, no MRAP abuse.

    I am a firm believer in preventing those poor outcomes over which we do have control.

    1. Matt Williams

      Ironically Tia, based on information provided to me last Thursday by Chief Black, the Davis Police have prevented one Columbine-like active shooter situation here in Davis during the six years Chief Black has been here.

          1. David Greenwald

            Yes. I actually went to the preliminary hearing, the charges were reduced at that time because the incident was overblown by the DA and police.

          2. Matt Williams

            So, are you saying that the person was not arming himself for an assault on the UCD campus and didn’t have plans written up for that assault?

            I assume you wrote up one (or more than one) Vanguard article on it. Can you link the article(s) here for us?

        1. South of Davis

          If every kid that talks about killing himself becomes a “Columbine-like active shooter situation” maybe we will need a SECOND MRAP for the suicide hotline people to roll in…

      1. Tia Will


        And if this is the case, did Chief Black indicate that an armored vehicle was essential in preventing this episode ?

        If not, it could hardly be seen as an enforcement of the need for the MRAP.

        1. Matt Williams

          Tia, I did not ask Chief Black for details. If my memory serves me correctly, the DPD were able to apprehend the suspect either on his way to the campus, or in the midst of his preparation for heading toward the campus. I do not know if that was one of the 43 deployments of the Peacekeeper in the past 5 years. If the details are important, then it would make sense for David to do a formal story on the incident.

          The reason I mentioned the incident was not to use it to reflect on MRAP use, but rather to note that Columbine-type incidents can be avoided by identifying the person ahead of time and intervening to relieve them of their munitions before they get to their intended target.

  9. Barack Palin

    However, it is 100% within our ability to prevent a case of MRAP abuse. No MRAP, no MRAP abuse.

    I am a firm believer in preventing those poor outcomes over which we do have control.

    If we take away a cop’s gun we also can prevent possible poor outcomes as you put it.

    If they don’t drive in squad cars that would prevent them from running someone down.

    Take away their billy clubs in case they might strike the wrong person.


  10. Tia Will


    That is certainly true.  However, I see a major difference between using vehicles and devices designed specifically for use in law enforcement in a civilian situation and importing and modifying a vehicle designed for an entirely different purpose, namely was,  and just hoping that it will serve well in our setting.

    And we could equally say well why don’t we let them acquire fighter jets or bombs such as were dropped on the MOVE house in Philadelphia ?  After all we trust them to use bombs within city limits srarely, judiciously and safely and surely individuals would just give up if they knew they were about to be bombed, right ?



    1. Edgar Wai

      Over-specification is not a logical reason to reject an equipment. If you need a 50m water resistant watch, but the manufacturers consider that specification out-dated and start making 200m water resistant watches, and the cheapest water resistant watch you can find now a day is actually a 200m one. What is the problem of getting that instead?

      What is the major difference that you see?

      You are suggesting that they others are just hoping that it would apply in our setting, but you are not describing how it would not apply here. In that case you are just hoping that it does not apply here.

      What is the exact issue that makes it functionally inapplicable here?

      I observe that the MRAP have been driving around to many places in the US, they have been redeclorated/remodified and were in use. We are not hearing news about people getting crushed by MRAPs, bridges collapsing, MRAPs rolling over, despite we know that some MRAPs were delivered to “rural” towns. On what basis are you suggesting that the MRAP has issues?

      And we could equally say well why don’t we let them acquire fighter jets or bombs such as were dropped on the MOVE house in Philadelphia ?

      The answer to this is on-duty risk and affordability. The MRAP was only $6000 to transport and it had a known use in our setting (search warrant) where an officer’s life is in danger. The tasks that require a fighter jet are not part of police job. Arguably, we could let the police get any equipment they think they need as long as it does not endanger anyone in a way that they can afford to insure. The MRAP is in that range of affordability to be used.

      If a fighter jet can be legally owned and it also costs only $6000 to transport, as long as the police is paying for it out of their pocket to maintain and secure it, there is nothing with them getting it and let it sit at a hanger as a mascot. If they were to use city money for it then they need to justify the cost. If they were to use it during police duty, the tactic and equipment would need to be reviewed and qualified.

      Imagine at some point the borders of all countries have dissolved such that there are no “military” any more because if there is one, they will all just be in the same army anyway. In such a world, there could still be a situation where some terrorist hijack a plane to crash into populous area to cause move lives than the lives of the passengers. One of the last resort tactics is to shoot down the passenger airplane. Fighter jets are not gone in that world, the entity that has custody of them would be something like a police agency.

      Should every community have their own fighter jet? That is a question of affordability, security (the fighter jets themselves can be hijacked and deal damage), and tactical coverage. Whether the police should have custody of the fighter jet depends on the context, it cannot be dismissed lightly like a joke.

      Until there are ways to resolve all conflicts, the police would need to have access to force and protection against forces. The level of armament they need is a matter of the level of armament they can expect to deal with. If you want to disarm the police, the safe way is to exert equal or more effort in disarming the threat first.

  11. Tia Will


    Whether the police should have custody of the fighter jet depends on the context, it cannot be dismissed lightly like a joke.”

    Please trust me, I was not dismissing this lightly as a joke. There is no circumstance under which I can see it as acceptable to use a fighter jet or bombs on a civilian population. And although I know if is an unpopular position to take, I believe that the same is true of the MRAP. This was a device that was designed for war, and that is the theater in which it should remain.


    1. WTF


      The current Peacekeeper was also designed for war and has been successfully used for decades by law enforcement.  The MRAP when modified would simply replace the Peacekeeper.  Your response to the MRAP is emotional devoid of any logic.

  12. Tia Will


    What is the major difference that you see?”

    Again not being facetious, one major difference that I see between the MRAP and your watch analogy is that the watch does not have the ability to emotionally inflame people. The MRAP most certainly does. Let’s just start with the amount of community discussion and posting that the controversy over the MRAP has generated. As Frankly has pointed out correctly, much of the conversation has been driven by emotion. So if this much emotion has been generated just by theoretical discussion in the community, how much more emotion do you think that it might bring to an actual field situation. Those who want it here state that it is protective only. So what could possibly go wrong ?

    Some examples of what has gone wrong in the past when law enforcement action escalated rather than defused situations.

    1. Waco

    2. Ruby Ridge

    3. The bombing of MOVE

    4. The WTO protests in Seattle

    5. Kent State

    6. Katrina

    7. UCD pepper spraying

    All have similarities and differences from the situations that we might encounter here. My point is not to say that these are situations that we would encounter . As a matter of fact, each had a very different set of initiating and precipitating events. Which for me reinforces rather than undercutting the point that we simply do not know under what set of circumstances a threat or situation could be misread by the authorities and / or police causing them to escalate a relatively straightforward, low or moderate risk situation into a much more dangerous one.

    My concern is not about the MRAP crushing anyone ( were you being facetious ? ) or causing an accident, it was rather about its inevitable raising of tensions rather than reducing them. The police themselves claim this as a mechanism of using the device, namely intimidation. If we are attempting to scare a hostage taker into “giving up” as your examples would imply, how do we know this individual feeling trapped and overwhelmed will not make the opposite decision and kill his hostages and himself ? The main difference then would be that he would no longer be alive to tell us that it was despair at the arrival of the MRAP that caused his final action.



    1. WTF

      There was an incident in Lassen County many years ago where a domestic violence suspect with a gun started shooting at the deputy sherrifs who responded.  One was hit and there was no MRAP or Peacekeeper.  It took law enforcement two hours to get to his body using a dump truck as the best vehcle available for that situation.  That deputy died.    I would hate to see a similar situation where the West Sacramento Peacekeeper breaks down again and the Davis Police department go looking for a dump truck.

    2. Matt Williams

      My concern is not about the MRAP […] was rather about its inevitable raising of tensions rather than reducing them. The police themselves claim this as a mechanism of using the device, namely intimidation.

      Tia, in his testimony (or any supporting documentation) did Chief Black or anyone from the DPD claim that, or are you referencing non-Davis sources when you say that?

    3. Edgar Wai

      I think the effect of intimidation is fundamentally different against people who know they are criminals and people who believe that they are not.

      For people who are criminal but not suicidal, when they are approached by law enforcement, they either:

      a) Try to hide that they are criminal
      b) Try to flee without fighting
      c) Try to fight to flee
      d) Surrender

      They are not trying to have a fight to the death. They are not backed up by any idealism. They fight if they think that they can get away. Intimidation makes them surrender. If they can’t get away, there is no point fighting.

      For people who are suicidal and murderous, they are already killing people. Intimidation has no effect. But the MRAP itself in that case is not for intimidation, it is there for its physical protective value against someone who is already ready to kill people.

      Against people who believe that they are wrongfully approached by force seeing such force does not automatically flip a switch and make them murderous, because they are willing to be martyrs for their ideals. In that case, unless the unlawful protestor is asset-less, there is no need to send any force. Just calculate any monetary loss that they are costing and directly sue them for damages. If they are sitting peacefully and you know where they are, it makes it all the easier to serve them the notice that they are being sued and are liable for the damage they are incurring. There is no need for the MRAP in that case, and DPD did not list the MRAP for that purpose.

      For asset-less unlawful protestors, the police should gather claims from other citizens about the damage they cost. (If no one is complaining, there is no real worth to enforce the law). The police might request the council for some kind of legal sanction stating that the police is relieved from lawsuit for not dealing with the protest. If there are people wanting the protest to end by force, the council might need to vote on the accepted use of force. This again release the police from the liability of “making the wrong call”, and let them serve as “servants of keeping the peace for the people” as their law enforcers.

      The police is the enforcer of changes the citizens want. Everything they do should be backed up by a desire of the citizens for them to act. Therefore, it is perfectly fine for the citizen to say “we don’t want you to ever use a MRAP in Davis,” as long as it is paired with the release of responsibility to deal with dangerous situations.

      For example, say the police can’t safely serve high-risk warrants anymore, they we can decide that we no longer serve high-risk warrants in Davis until we find a safe way to do so. If no one is being hurt by high-risk warrants not being served, then perhaps the DPD never needed to put themselves in that situation in Davis to begin with.

      I do not have a solution for extracting a down officer. So in the case the WTF posted about Lassen County, I don’t have a justification not giving DPD access to MRAP. If I know of a way then the decision would be different. But as of now I don’t have a solution, and the order is important. Find the alternative before rejecting a solution.


    4. Edgar Wai

      I was not being facetious about MRAP crushing people. The way MRAP is meant to be used against a shooter, there would be people/officers at close proximity of the MRAP (taking cover behind the MRAP, right next to the wheel, etc). When construction workers drive a dump truck around at a work cite, there are people watching the movement to make sure no one is standing behind the truck when it tries to back up for example.

      In an active shooter situation you can’t just have a person standing outside to signal like that, but the driver could still get a “clear” signal from headphone or other methods before backing up.

      To extract a down officer, it would be really bad if the driver of the MRAP misjudged the distance and ran over the officer by accident. It seems that issue like this does not happen in reality, probably because in police work there are people watching the situation and tell them where to go. So it is a physically possible incident, but perhaps tactically/operationally improbable.

    5. Edgar Wai

      Again not being facetious, one major difference that I see between the MRAP and your watch analogy is that the watch does not have the ability to emotionally inflame people. The MRAP most certainly does. Let’s just start with the amount of community discussion and posting that the controversy over the MRAP has generated. As Frankly has pointed out correctly, much of the conversation has been driven by emotion. So if this much emotion has been generated just by theoretical discussion in the community, how much more emotion do you think that it might bring to an actual field situation.

      For the above comment, I am still thinking about how the responsibility is split when emotion is involved. I think it is clear that if someone gets angry and makes the situation worse, the person who is angry cannot automatically blame the object, gesture, or person who he claims to have made him angry for all of the aftermath of his action. The question to me is how the line should be drawn.

      When an officer stands at your driveway and ask ‘how may I help you?’ and you shoot him with a gun, we consider that the shooter to be unlawful.

      When an officer just break into your house unannounced, pull out a gun posing to shoot you, it is okay for you to shoot back in self-defense.

      In the first situation, why is it invalid for the shooter to claim that he is threatened and he acted based on self-defense? Is this just a matter of cultural expectation, or is that something more fundamental to determine when a person is at fault for not remaining calm?

      How do we determine when the citizen needs to be more calm, and when the police need to change tactics?

    6. Matt Williams

      Some examples of what has gone wrong in the past when law enforcement action escalated rather than defused situations.

      1. Waco

      2. Ruby Ridge

      3. The bombing of MOVE

      4. The WTO protests in Seattle

      5. Kent State

      6. Katrina

      7. UCD pepper spraying

      Tia, when looking at your list, at which of those did MRAP equivalents cause an escalation of the confrontation? In the case of both Waco and MOVE the confrontation was already at such a fully heightened level that MRAP equivalents did not contribute to any further heightening. Did the breaching of the Branch Davidian compound walls escalate things further? I would argue that the decision to assault the compound made the method chosen for the assault moot. At MOVE the escalation vehicle (and there clearly was an escalation vehicle) was a helicopter.

      Although I am not personally familiar with the details of Ruby Ridge, what is written about it does not appear to indicate that armored vehicles were involved, which makes the likelihood of their contributing to an escalation small. If you have additional detail to share that I missed please do share it.

      Kent State escalated to the lethal level it did with building burning and National Guard deployment being the escalatory factors. To the best of my knowledge the only vehicle involved was a Jeep … unarmored to the best of my knowlwdge.

      Because of the massiveness of the event, the aftermath of Katrina was in a world by itself. Given the extensiveness and level of looting that took place post-Katrina, and the nature of that looting, how do you think the NOPD’s use of the armored vehicle escalated that situation?

      Did the City of Davis deploy its Peacekeeper armored vehicle in the lead-up to or during the UCD pepper spraying? Was there any armored vehicle present from any other jurisdiction?

      That leaves Seattle, and I fully agree with you that deployment of and use of Seattle’s armored vehicle contributed to the escalation of events there.

  13. WTF

    The below is a perfect example of where an MRAP or similar vehicle is needed.

    On March 2, 1995, Wayne Aldridge was awakened by a call from the Lassen County Sheriff’s Department dispatcher around 3:45 a.m. The dispatcher told Aldridge, the on-call deputy, that a woman had reported a domestic violence situation at her home in Ravendale, during which a gun was fired.   Aldridge put on his uniform-dark brown slacks and a khaki-colored shirt with Lassen County Sheriff’s Department patches on each shoulder, dark brown epaulets, dark brown pocket covers, and a badge on the upper left chest-and met Deputy Larry Griffith at the sheriff’s department in Susanville.   Griffith was also in uniform.   The reporting party was identified as Julie Ervine, and the officers were dispatched to meet her at the post office in Ravendale, about 60 miles away.   They drove in a marked patrol car-a brown 1994 Ford Crown Victoria with Lassen County Sheriff’s Department insignia on each side, a sheriff’s logo on the rear, and red and blue overhead lights-and arrived around 5:30 a.m. Julie Ervine (Julie) was there, dressed in a bathrobe and accompanied by her neighbor, John Boske.

    Julie reported that defendant had seemed strange when she returned home around 9:00 p.m. the night before.   He had been cleaning a semiautomatic rifle, despite the late hour and despite the fact he had recently cleaned it.   About an hour later, they argued.   He demanded the keys to her car, ostensibly to repair the windshield wiper on the rear window.   Julie pointed out that the wiper had been “messed up” for two years.   As the argument escalated, Julie announced she was going to leave him.   Defendant entered the bedroom, grabbed her by the neck, and threw her on the bed.   He then pulled out a silver-colored semiautomatic handgun and pressed it against her left cheek.   When he said he ought to kill her right there, she tried to talk her way out of the situation.   He pulled the gun away, fired a round into a stuffed toy dinosaur that was near her head, and left the room.   Julie, clad only in her bathrobe, climbed out the bathroom window.   However, she made a noise closing the window, and defendant rushed in and saw her escape. She ran towards the rear of the house and hid in the sagebrush.   From her position, she could see defendant moving vehicles around at the front of the house, so she crawled to the Boske residence, approximately half a mile away to the south.

    Upon hearing this account, Deputy Aldridge decided to call for backup and the two officers, accompanied by Julie and her neighbor, went to the Boske residence to do so.   Aldridge parked the patrol car in front, with its rear facing defendant’s residence.   There was a clear view between the residences.   Reached by phone, Commander Freitas instructed Aldridge and Griffith to continue to observe the Ervine residence and said that he would “gather the troops” in the meantime.   Through his binoculars, Aldridge saw defendant shuttle back and forth between the Ervine house and a red car, which was the vehicle parked closest to the house.   Griffith went outside the Boske house with another pair of binoculars and watched defendant, who in turn was watching the two deputies through his own pair of binoculars.   Defendant continued to watch them for about a minute and then went into the house and up the stairs, where he observed them through his binoculars for another minute.

    Meanwhile, Commander Freitas tried to telephone defendant’s house, but defendant never picked up the phone and the answering machine message was garbled.   Freitas and Deputy Henry Mahan then drove to the Boske residence and parked their patrol vehicle directly behind Aldridge’s vehicle.   They were wearing the same uniforms as Aldridge and Griffith.   Julie described to them the weapon defendant had used the previous night, which appeared to be a .22-caliber semiautomatic, as well as other weapons defendant possessed.   As to defendant’s state of mind, Julie told the officers that he “had lost it.”   The four officers got back into their vehicles and headed towards defendant’s house around 9:00 a.m., intending to arrest him for felony domestic violence.

    The deputies proceeded down the Ervines’ long driveway towards the Ervines’ fenced-in yard, with Freitas’s car in the lead.   Outside again, defendant watched them for a time and then walked toward and re-entered his residence as the deputies approached, turning once or twice to look back as he did so.   Freitas and Mahan stopped at the locked gate and exited their vehicle.   They yelled to defendant to come and talk.   Aldridge and Griffith parked behind them and at an angle.   Aldridge pulled out his binoculars and observed defendant at a second-story window with what appeared to be a weapon.   Aldridge warned the others and opened his car door.   Griffith exited Aldridge’s vehicle on the passenger side and knelt down.   Defendant came closer to the second-story window, used his weapon to knock a hole in it, and immediately began firing.

    Freitas ducked behind his car door and heard two quick shots fired by defendant, who had a tactical advantage by being able to fire down from above the officers, approximately 187 feet away.   Although there was some dispute at trial over the sequence of the subsequent shots, the record showed that defendant fired in Freitas’s direction at least twice;  that defendant fired another shot that grazed the top of Mahan’s head as well as firing other shots in Mahan’s direction;  that defendant shot Griffith in the head;  and that Aldridge, who tried to find a vantage point but could not because the lead patrol vehicle’s rear window and light bar were in the way, took cover in the “V” of his open vehicle door.2  The record also showed that Griffith managed to fire a single round from his M16 rifle before being shot;  that Freitas returned defendant’s fire using his .45-caliber semiautomatic pistol;  and that Mahan used his shotgun to fire once at defendant.   After the shotgun was fired, defendant appeared to roll backwards away from the window, leading Mahan to think defendant had been knocked down.   The entire encounter lasted about 10 to 15 seconds.

    As Commander Freitas moved towards the rear of his vehicle to retrieve his sniper rifle, he saw that Deputy Griffith had been hit in the head.   Freitas was sure Griffith was dead and told Aldridge, “We’ve got an officer down.   Call 1199,” using an emergency code indicating an officer in trouble.   Aldridge thought that Mahan must have been the victim because he did not see Mahan at first, but, as Aldridge grabbed his car radio to report the 1199 call, he saw Mahan do the same thing in the lead vehicle.   Aldridge then noticed a piece of skull membrane on his radio and “pink material” splashed on the front seat and elsewhere in the car’s interior and called out to Griffith.   There was no response.   Aldridge dropped down to the ground and saw Griffith lying on the ground on the other side of the vehicle.   There was an exit wound at the back of his head.

    After the shooting stopped, defendant did not reappear at the window or otherwise communicate with the officers, and they were concerned that defendant, a veteran of the Vietnam War, might come out of the house and pick them off from behind.   The patrol vehicles constituted the only cover available to the officers, and they were pinned down, unable to move, for three hours.   The sheriff’s department finally obtained a dump truck with a snowplow blade on the front.   The truck backed down the entire length of the Ervines’ driveway, with its bed (filled with sand) tilted up as a shield, and the surviving officers climbed into or onto the vehicle to make their escape.   Sniper teams were then set up at the four corners of the house.   Several hours later, around 6:00 p.m., defendant surrendered.   As he exited his property, he paused for several seconds at Griffith’s body, which had remained the entire day where it had fallen.

    1. Frankly

      WTF – Thanks for this story.  Other than any officer that might be harmed or killed because of the idiocy of some vocal cop and soldier-hating activists and our city council members that cannot think past symbolism, I fear for them being held responsible should something like this even occur in Davis.

  14. Michelle Millet

    Let’s paint it to look like an ice cream truck so people won’t be traumatized by the site of it, and when we are not using to protect police officers from meth dealers with high powered rifles sell Popsicles out of the back to help raise money for road repairs.

  15. Edgar Wai

    Re: Tia

    The police asked for the MRAP. They assume the damage caused by the use of it. People who support the use of MRAP are responsible for the damage caused by its proper use exceeding the damage that would result from proper handling without using an MRAP. It is correct that people who support the use need to consider the risk also.

    In the following I try to illustrate what costs might be accounted if someone were to analyze the impacts:

    Case 1: 90% of the population are against the use of MRAP, 10% are for the use including the police. An agreement was reached to allow the police to use the MRAP if there was sufficient fund vouched for it with an initial voucher of $100K.

    In an incident, the MRAP was used to serve a high-risk warrant. The police surrounded the building in a stand off for 30 minutes before the MRAP arrived. When the MRAP arrived, the suspect surrendered.

    The entire operation took 3 hours, involving 12 officers with overtime pay. That is 48 OT hours.

    Independent analysts estimated that if the MRAP did not show up, the suspect would most likely surrender in 3 hours instead of 30 minutes by extended peaceful negotiation . The extra 2.5 hours would have cost an addition of 30 OT hours.

    Assuming that the hourly pay rate is $40/hr, and OT pay rate is $50/hr, and the operation cost of the MRAP for this incident was $50, by using the MRAP, there is a comparative saving of $1450.

    The accounting service of the city adds this $1450 to the registered opposition of the MRAP, and release $1450 of liability for the pro-MRAP people. The total amount of $100K vouched remains unchanged, but now 1.45% of that comes from the anti-MRAP people.

    Case 2: In a similar situation above, the police MRAP arrived at the 30 minute mark with the hope to end a standoff. The sight of the MRAP triggered a panic in the suspect and started firing at the MRAP. The MRAP, being ballistic proof, suffered only cosmetic damages. The incident commander ordered the MRAP to return to standby at the front instead of withdrawing so that the suspect would not miss the MRAP and cause other damages and injures. The stand off continued for another 10 minutes when the suspect ran out of ammo and was apprehended. The entire incident took 3 hours and 12 officer with OT pay. The MRAP was repainted for $50.

    Independent analysts estimated that if the MRAP was not used, the police would have used the peacekeeper. The incident would result in gunshot wounds amounting to $30K of medical service costs, and additional property damage of $10K when the peacekeeper is forced to withdraw with injured officer inside while the suspect continued to fire. The firefight would end in 20 minutes with the suspect was shot by SWAT sniper and apprehended, and the entire incident would involve 15 officers for 6 OT hours on that day, plus 80 OT hours to cover the injured officer. The repair cost for the peacekeeper was $10K, which put the peacekeeper out of service for 1 week.

    The difference in cost was $30K + $10K + $50x(90 + 80 – 36) + ($10K – $50) = $56650. The accounting service posted this bill for the anit-MRAP and released the corresponding amount for the pro-MRAP. This incident alone shifted 57% of the liability to the anti-MRAP citizens. The total vouched amount remains the same at $100K.

    Case 3: Another similar situation where with a standoff. This time, the suspect has a hostage. The MRAP was sent to negotiate and to ascertain that the hostage is safe and to identify the identity of the hostage. The suspect, noticed that MRAP is taller than usual a peacekeeper, realized that the police could see what he wanted to hide if the MRAP was to get close. Not wanting to get caught red handed, he killed the hostage and himself. The overall incident took 3 hours with 12 officers on OT. The dead hostage was identified to be an Anti-MRAP citizen.

    Independent analysts estimated that if the police used the peacekeeper, the suspect would not have fired at the police, but would have continue to buy time to dispose the evidence. The incident would have ended in 3 hours when the police entered and did not find what they did not know they would find in the residence. The suspect would still be apprehended for the original crime the search warrant was issued for. The independent analysts consider the death of the hostage a result of the MRAP, and let the accounting service withdraw the $100K vouched to compensate the family of the dead hostage.

    With this death, the use of MRAP was not suspended, but another $100K of liability was immediately issued to the pro-MRAP citizens. To suspend the MRAP, the Anti-MRAP citizens would have to vouch for their $100K to insure against damages due to lack of MRAP.

    == ANALYSIS ==

    It is possible to imagine more cases and estimate the cost for each case. After doing that, the probability of the incidents can be estimated and an overall balance can be estimated.

    For these three cases, the transaction summary per incident is:

    Case 1: Anti-MRAP +1.45%, Pro-MRAP -1.45%
    Case 2: Anti-MRAP +56.65% Pro-MRAP -56.65%
    Case 3: Anti-MRAP -100% Pro-MRAP +100%

    Positive means increasing liability.

    Suppose I believe that the occurrence of each incident is about:
    Case 1: MRAP shortens standoff: Most of the incidents
    Case 2: MRAP prevents officer injury: Once every 5 years
    Case 3: MRAP causes Anti-MRAP hostage life: Once every 50 years

    If we estimate 8 incidents per year, then the ratio of these cases is about 400:10:1, and that there are 8 incidents each year. Then the yearly transaction of the liability per incident type is:

    Case 1: Anti-MRAP +11.56%, Pro-MRAP -11.56%
    Case 2: Anti-MRAP +11.33%, Pro-MRAP -11.33%
    Case 3: Anti-MRAP -2.00%, Pro-MRAP +2.00%

    Yearly total:
    Anti-MRAP +20.89%
    Pro-MRAP -20.89%

    This result means that in a little less than 5 years, all of the liability would have shifted to the Anti-MRAP citizens. This is the same as saying having an MRAP is a decision 5 times as good as having no MRAP.

    In this three cases, if we were to make the yearly transaction neutral by increasing the compensation of death (without changing the ratio of occurrence), the compensation would have to be $1.144 Million.

    If we were to make the yearly transaction neutral by increasing the occurrence of Case 3, it would have to happen every 4 years instead of every 50 years in Davis.

    If you add Case 4 for “MRAP saves officer life” and you estimate that that would happen in similar frequency as Case 3, then in this set of cases Case 3 is neutralized although it would not change the result significantly because the odds of either case were low in comparison.

    1. Edgar Wai

      Re: Tia,

      I did not add any case on the effect of preventative measures because I don’t know its cost, how it works, and how it would affect the immediate future. However you are welcome to add a Case with your estimates.

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