Robb Davis Explains Concerns About MRAP (Video)

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The city of Davis will be returning the MRAP (mine-resistant ambush protected vehicle), as the council reaffirmed its August vote by a 3-2 margin, with Councilmembers Brett Lee and Rochelle Swanson dissenting.  For a full discussion of the vote, see this morning’s article.

Robb Davis made extensive comments challenging the usefulness of the vehicle.  (See the video below for his full comments).

Mayor Pro Tem Robb Davis told Councilmember Lee that he was willing to put resources into a vehicle that provides protection to the police, however he would argue that the MRAP is really not an appropriate vehicle for our community.

“I would be very willing to put resources into a vehicle that provided protection,” he said. “It’s not just that symbols matter, which they do. I tried to speak to that. Some people agreed with that perspective, some people didn’t.

“Fundamentally I don’t think the vehicle, the MRAP, is adapted to our situation,” he continued. “It does one thing well, it protects people inside.” Citing military literature, he argued, “There’s a lot of disagreement about the value of this vehicle.

“One of the reasons we’re seeing them show up in our communities is because they haven’t worked very well except for one thing – as you’re going down a road, a pretty straight road, a flat road, if a bomb goes off, it will protect everybody inside. That we know. Everyone agrees with that,” the Mayor Pro Tem explained. “Where the disagreement comes in is what happens if you have to wheel it into a tight spot.” He said up hills, uneven terrain, even up driveways are problematic for the vehicle.

“What happens in an urban environment?” he continued. “The consensus there is that it’s not very well adapted.” He called it “a product of really a broken military system. There were five companies that made these.” He said when they “got into theater they couldn’t even find the parts to repair these because they’re specialized parts.”

The mayor pro tem said that we have been told it’s just a truck and the cost to repair it is minimal, but “the reality is that the experience in military situations around the world is that it’s been a complete headache.”

Robb Davis said, “If I were to make a prediction today… I would say in about five years there’s going to be a lot of jurisdictions that are looking to get rid of these things. They just aren’t adapted to the situation.

“I believe very personally that we need to create a very clear line of separation between military and police,” he stated. He reiterated his trust and appreciation for the local police, but added, “I said it will hurt [that trust], it will, if we bring military equipment in.” He emphasized that he was more worried about the decisions by civilian leaders than by the police in situations such as what arose in Ferguson or at UC Davis on the Quad.

“Given all of that,” he said “I have moved in the last six weeks. I’ve moved to an understanding that the situation in our city has changed over the past ten years… That it is more dangerous, that there are more weapons. That there are more people with mental health problems with access to those weapons.

“One of the things that should disturb all of us is that one of the groups that you [Chief Landy Black] are concerned about are people that are tactically trained, who know how to use high powered weapons and the tactics to counter your tactics, and have PTSD,” he said. “Who are those people? They’re former military. I don’t know about anybody else, but I’m a little bit offended that the US Military would send us a $600,000 piece of equipment… but not give us the wherewithal to treat in our own communities the root cause of violence. I think it’s something we need to look [at] in our hearts and ask if that’s the direction we want our country to go.”

Mayor Pro Tem Robb Davis moved the item, and Lucas Frerichs seconded it. Councilmember Rochelle Swanson said that she could not support it without an amendment.

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About The Author

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

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34 thoughts on “Robb Davis Explains Concerns About MRAP (Video)”

  1. Anon

    One of the things that should disturb all of us is that one of the groups that you [Chief Landy Black] are concerned about are people that are tactically trained, who know how to use high powered weapons and the tactics to counter your tactics, and have PTSD,” he said. “Who are those people? They’re former military. I don’t know about anybody else, but I’m a little bit offended that the US Military would send us a $600,000 piece of equipment… but not give us the wherewithal to treat in our own communities the root cause of violence. I think it’s something we need to look [at] in our hearts and ask if that’s the direction we want our country to go.

    What is the implication here, that the root cause of crime in Davis and across the nation is due to former veterans who have PTSD?  I don’t know what Robb intended by his statement, but the above quote comes off as sounding very, very anti-military.  And yet it is our soldiers who fought and died for this country and the freedoms we enjoy that make this blog possible and give Robb the ability to make such statements from the City Council dais.

    1. Davis Progressive

      i think the implication is that we send off our soldiers to fight our wars and then leave them traumatized and often ending up homeless and on the streets and without mental health care and medical care.

      1. Anon

        What does any of this have to do with crime committed in Davis/across the nation?  Are you now implying that the nation’s crimes are committed by those veterans who are not treated for PTSD and end up homeless or untreated for mental illness?

        1. Davis Progressive

          there clearly are crimes that fit that, by no means exclusively.  but there is an element that concerns the police chief and that was the context of robb’s comment.

    2. Barack Palin

      Anon, that’s just the typical liberal jargon.   Big Sis said basically the same thing as the head of Homeland Security in 2009.  It’s disgusting.

      1. Anon

        I find this type of “jargon” offensive.  Soldiers put their lives on the line for the freedoms we enjoy.  They should not be accused of being responsible for our nation’s crimes.

        1. South of Davis

          Anon wrote:

          > They should not be accused of being responsible for

          > our nation’s crimes.

          Does anyone know of even a single gun crime in Davis committed by a “tactically trained” vet with PTSD?

        2. Edgar Wai

          If I remember correctly, the Chief made the comment to respond to the question on whether the mine-resistant feature would ever needed.

          He was saying that something like it could be needed because many veterans know how to make IED. That comment was specifically about the mine-resistant feature, not the ballistic protection feature. It was an example that the knowledge of making IED isn’t that far-fetched, and having to face IED is one of the scenarios that the police considered.

          The Chief was not talking about criminals are veterans. A veteran could be a criminal, or some criminal might learn from a veteran, or from the internet. There was no default reason why the mine-resistance feature would never be used.

        3. South of Davis

          Edgar wrote:

          > It was an example that the knowledge of making IED isn’t

          >that far-fetched, and having to face IED is one of the scenarios

          >that the police considered.

          I have had some close friends and relatives in both Iraq and Afghanistan in recent years.  I may be wrong but I’m pretty sure US troops are not learning about “making IEDs”.

          With that said we know about the Davis cop getting shot in the 1950’s, has any police vehicle in any city in America ever been blown up by an IED?

    3. Dave Hart

      The point is NOT that veterans as a group are a crime threat, but that a tactically trained person (that would mean veterans) who have PTSD or are otherwise unbalanced and might be willing to act out their problems are a greater threat than some undisciplined drug dealer without that military background.  And, that because of that training, a former veteran who might be heavily armed and at least temporarily homicidal would, in fact, be a serious threat to the police such that a vehicle like the MRAP would be an effective shield.  Davis’ point is that the military seems to have millions to throw at armament but nothing to spend on helping the people that come back damaged by their military experience.  There is no way to know if there is even one person in that category who might be living here in Davis and who could be ready to go off the deep end.  The DPD is implying that they need to be prepared for any and all eventualities.  So, don’t go off on the anti-military witch hunt. Davis is saying the DPD has not articulated such a threat adequately to justify an MRAP-like vehicle at this time.

  2. Michelle Millet

    I think Robb’s explanation would be more relevant if we were deciding on whether or not to purchase the vehicle.  Is the MRAP the perfect piece of equipment? No. But it was free, and we have it, and we have situations that arise in this community when the protection it provides could help keep our police officers safe. I don’t understand the urgency to send it back. Why not keep it until a more suitable vehicle can be obtained?

        1. South of Davis

          Michelle wrote:

          > I going to remind you that you said that some day;-)

          Like when you want to make the MRAP “greener” with a hybrid drive system?

      1. Michelle Millet

        To be clear, I have absolutely no doubt that Robb made this decision based on his own convictions, and NOT the opinion of local activist. I disagree with his decision, but I am certain that it was based on what he felt was best for the community.

    1. Dave Hart

      He made a good point that the vehicle, while free of charge to take delivery, is not “free” of costs to maintain and operate.  He makes that point regarding spare parts.  A vehicle like this needs somewhat frequent training by officers so that if it is deployed, it can be used safely and effectively.  That will divert officers’ time from other duties.  It’s not free just because it doesn’t come with a price tag on the window.  And another thing to consider is that if this was such a great vehicle of general security use, why does the military want to get rid of it?  The government is taking on the role of used car salesman trying to unload a lemon at a ridiculously low price.  What a deal!

  3. Tia Will

    And yet it is our soldiers who fought and died for this country and the freedoms we enjoy that make this blog possible and give Robb the ability to make such statements from the City Council dais.”

    I am very concerned about the opinion being expressed here. Again we are seeing put forward here the idea that members of one group should be exempt and or exalted because of their membership in a respected group. We are seeing this with regard to the police and we are seeing it with regard to members of the military. Having been a member of the military ( non arms bearing medical branch) I can assure you that being in the military does not convey upon an individual any more or less humanity with all its nobility and flaws than does any other position. It does not make one any more or less subject to misinterpretation of events or error. People enter the military for many different reasons. They enter to protect the country. They enter because it is a family tradition. They enter because they see it as their best opportunity to gain an education. The enter because they do not see any other good opportunity. They enter for adventure. Some come out stronger and wiser than they went in. Some come out very, very damaged and in need or our help, not neglect. To either exalt or to demonize them is a false and naive portrayal of the complexity of every human being.

    I do not believe that this simplification represents Robb Davis view at all . I can assure that Robb marches to his own drum and that of no other. And I am disappointed that anyone would wrap the flag around their own position in this manner.

    1. Anon

      To Tia: I have to go by the words Robb said and by his actions.  If he wished to clarify his statement and actions, then let him do so.  From where I sit, he generalized about an entire group of citizens, who fight and die for this country and protect our freedoms, essentially making a broad brush statement that crimes across the nation are the result of veterans with PTSD.   I didn’t single out any particular group – Robb Davis did that.

      1. David Greenwald Post author

        Robb’s entire comment referred to Landy Black’s expressed concern about individuals who had PTSD and were trained on tactics and could counter police tactics. He pointed out that these folks were former military. That is not generalizing an entire group of citizens, it is referencing a small segment of a much broader group.

        1. Anon

          Read Robb Davis’ words:
          “I don’t know about anybody else, but I’m a little bit offended that the US Military would send us a $600,000 piece of equipment… but not give us the wherewithal to treat in our own communities the root cause of violence.”  

          I don’t see how you can interpret that sentence any other way than to read it as saying the root cause of violence in our communities are those returning veterans who have PTSD. 

      2. Robb Davis

        Anon – I usually do not make it my practice to respond to anonymous posters but because there is a clear sense that I have failed to make myself clear on this point, I will chime in here.   I have met with various members of the DPD three times since the initial vote on the MRAP and the police, at each occasion, described basically three groups that concern them in terms of access to high powered weapons: 1) people with mental health problems who may threaten families, neighbors or whole groups of people with gun violence, either at home or in a public space; 2) drug dealers who possess weapons to protect their product from theft by other dealers; 3) highly trained military vets suffering with PTSD or other mental health problems who are trained both in weapons use and tactics to counter police tactics.  Does this mean that the police said they have encountered each of these groups in Davis? No, they were merely saying what concerned them in the changing environment that they do not think most Davisites are aware of. I did not raise the issue of military vets as threats–they did.  On Tuesday I was merely observing parenthetically how absurd it is to have such a situation arise and for the DOD to offer us, not treatment for those suffering from PTSD, but rather a vehicle to enable police to deal with them in a confrontational way.

        And to be clear, PTSD is NOT a theoretical construct for me–nor is my response mere “knee jerkism”.  A few weeks ago I lost a cousin (quite a bit older than me).  He suffered  with untreated PTSD for over 30 years (Viet Nam).  He lost his entire adult life in that struggle. He engaged in self-destructive behavior.  And he is not the only one in my immediate family that has suffered the long-term consequences of fighting in wars.  Coming from a family that has been involved in many wars in many places we have all lived with the reality of this problem. The result is broken families, broken lives, alcoholism, depression and violence.  I have a dear friend back east whose son has suffered PTSD coming out of Iraq after being shot in combat, suffering a roadside bombing, having observed summary executions by his fellow soldiers,  and being threatened by superiors to say nothing about them.

        You don’t have to read very far to realize how poorly the DOD has dealt with PTSD issue and attendant problems like TBI–the signature injury of our modern wars.

        Am I anti-miltary?  No, I am not against the people who fight in wars–they are my brother, my cousins, my uncles, my dad and my friends.

        Am I anti-military?  Yes, I am anti any institution that treats people with disregard after years of service to said institution–especially when that service causes significant mental and physical challenges.  We are talking about an institution that is broken–especially in how it treats its own (And I am clearly not alone in criticizing how vets are treated–critics highlighted  this issue last summer in light of the failings of some VA hospitals).

        I care deeply about those who have fought in wars both in my family and in the work I do here in the region. I have worked with homeless vets and have volunteered several times at the North Bay Stand Down in Dixon where homeless vets are given access to needed services.  I am frustrated that these men (almost exclusively men) are treated with such disrespect.  A few years ago I collaborated on the design of a course to help faith-based groups who were trying to welcome young men and women back from Iraq and Afghanistan deal with this challenge because the military was not doing enough.  The groups in question were simply not equipped to deal with the trauma these vets had experienced.  These are my actions.

        On Tuesday night I was not accusing them, I was merely observing what the police cited about concerns about some in that situation.

        I hope this clarifies my position but please ask more questions if there are remaining issues of concern.

        1. Anon

          Yes it does better clarify your position, but I would caution you to be more careful with your words.  Secondly, PTSD and the lack of mental health services for veterans is a whole separate issue.  Third, clearly we have bad criminals in our midst, and the Davis Police do feel the need to have an armored vehicle available on short notice, and have made do with a very inadequate and outdated model.  Chief Black made a sensible decision to try and protect his police officers with a free armored vehicle from the Defense Dept.  Now that the MRAPor  has been given back, the choices left are 1) pretend there is no dangerous crime in Davis in need of an armored vehicle and send our officers out unprotected; 2) or somehow come up with $300,000 for a new politically correct vehicle with money the city doesn’t have.  Sorry, but the City Council majority’s logic escapes me.  We will have to agree to disagree on this one.

          1. Matt Williams

            Anon, there is a very clear and immediately available choice 3) which is to use the recently procured armored vehicle that West Sacramento has procured as a replacement for the “inadequate and outdated” Peacekeeper. That vehicle in in West Sacramento’s possession. It did not cost $300,000.

        2. Dave Hart

          I think Robb was quite clear in his initial comments.  I think Anon and others need to be a little more careful in reading and listening more carefully to what is said to keep this debate from going off the rails.  I’m glad the Vanguard provides the space for a deeper and more considered expression of opinion on all sides of the issues here in Davis.

  4. Tia Will

    Anon

    The words that I quoted are yours. Whether or not Robb did the same does not change the fact that you chose to single out a group to represent in a certain way. There is nothing that I have said or done that would limit Robb’s ability to say more on this issue if he chooses to.

    My posts, just like yours, are a reflection of my perspective on the issues. I am not an apologist for anyone else’s beliefs or views. I have included in the “about me” section every time I write an article that my views are my own and only my own. Do you really think that I should now be including that disclaimer with every post ?

  5. DT Businessman

    On the way to the Bay Area this morning, traffic slowed to a crawl on I80 shortly before Fairfield.  The cause?  Lookie loos gawking at the burned out remains of an MRAP on the freeway shoulder.  Two pertinent questions: 1) Was that the Davis MRAP?  2) Can anyone account for the whereabouts of Robb Davis 6:30 – 9:30am this morning?

    -Michael Bisch

    1. Dave Hart

      Hey, I saw that vehicle today too.  If I wasn’t trying to get somewhere on time I would have stopped to get a photo.  It wasn’t an MRAP, though, it appeared to be a decommissioned military Humvee that someone had bought.  Looks like it caught fire and the driver had pulled over to let it burn.

  6. DT Businessman

    Whoops!  I don’t think my initial post properly conveyed the visual.  “Burned out” as in incinerated, melted-tires, Molotov-cocktail-struck, smoking-ruin.  Robb? You’ve a lot of explaining to do!

    PS: The only thing missing from the scene was Alan Miller dancing an Ewok-like, war-dance around the destroyed MRAP.

    -Michael Bisch

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