Sunday Commentary: Decision Forthcoming, Do You Know Where Your MRAP Is?

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When the Davis City Council voted 3-1-1 back in late August to send the Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle back, they put in language to bring the issue back after sixty days. The Davis Police Department, following the raid on Royal Oak a few weeks ago, put on a full court press arguing that the city’s police force was vulnerable on such high-risk warrants and raids, and that the city had to borrow two vehicles from adjacent cities and one of them broke down.

One thing is clear, the majority of the council, including Mayor Dan Wolk, Mayor Pro Tem Robb Davis, and Councilmember Lucas Frerichs, are unlikely to change their minds. Where the process may end up going, however, is looking for a solution to the police’s concern that does not involve Davis possession of a military style armored vehicle – that could mean the acquisition of such a vehicle or, perhaps, given the infrequent need in Davis, some sort of regional approach to the issue.

This week, the Woodland Daily Democrat reports that the Woodland City Council was presented with information by Police Chief Dan Bellini. Unlike Davis, the chief provided “background for the council on the Department of Defense program that allows law enforcement to procure excess property” before the city acquired it.

“Why the leap from an outdated SWAT vehicle to an MRAP?” asked Councilman Angel Barajas (as reported by the Woodland paper). “That’s a big jump. Is there anything in between and what is the justification for why the Woodland Police Department would need an MRAP?”

The Democrat reports, “Bellini showed the council pictures of the department’s current armored vehicle, which is basically an old armored car that was donated years ago for a small fee. He said that there are two SWAT teams in the county that operate as a team. They are the Davis-West Sacramento SWAT team and a Woodland-Sheriff’s Department SWAT team. Bellini said the armored vehicle used by the Woodland SWAT team was acquired in 2006 from the Colusa County SWAT team.”

“The current armored vehicle is a brigadier armored vehicle,” he said. “It looks like an armored bank vehicle and that’s what it was. It has been outfitted with Kevlar for protection.”

The Democrat adds: “According to Bellini, the existing vehicle has several issues not the least of which is its age: 30 years. CHP inspectors have also determined that its air brakes need to be replaced and it is made to transport money not people. Bellini noted that if the vehicle were to drive into a hostile situation there is no protection for the side windows.

“Bellini said an MRAP would be able to hold 10 people, which is the same number on a SWAT team.”

“That type of vehicle is built for transporting personnel,” he said. “It is more armor protected than the current vehicle.”

If there was any doubt as to where the Mayor of Davis was headed, he laid it out in an op-ed in the San Francisco Chronicle, entitled, “Quiet town of Davis says no thanks to police tank.” I’m not sure I’m agreeable to the notion of Davis as a “quiet town,” but the mayor is pretty unequivocal on this issue.

He paints the picture of Davis as the university town where “a traffic jam usually involves too many bicycles headed toward the farmers’ market at the same time, so you can imagine the surprise when a tank rolled into town.”

Before you can say “it’s not a tank” (why do I keep harkening back to the scene from Kindergarten Cop where the former governor of California proclaimed “it’s not a tumor”?), Mayor Wolk continues, “Well, technically it is a mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicle — MRAP for short. But when you are talking about something that weighs 20 tons, has a turret, costs around $700,000, and looks like it belongs on the streets of Iraq or Afghanistan rather than the streets of Northern California, that would seem like a distinction without a difference.”

Exactly, Mr. Mayor.

He then cuts to the point, “If it sounds ludicrous that Davis should have an MRAP, that’s because it is.”

There you have it. He adds, “Not only are we known more for our bicycle lanes and viticulture students than our crime, we are particularly sensitive to police overreaction. As you may recall, our community made national headlines for the pepper-spraying of student protesters in 2011.”

He continues, “In Davis, without informing the council or mayor, the police acquired the MRAP under a broad grant of authority from a prior city council. The prior council had probably assumed that the police might need some extra bulletproof jackets from time to time — but certainly not a tank-like vehicle designed specifically for the war in Iraq.”

This is actually a critical point where I think Chief Landy Black and the police really fumbled the ball. And it’s where Woodland is being wise. Had Chief Black gone to the council, expressing the need for an armored vehicle and laying out the reasons why, I think the council would have figured out a way to accommodate that need.

By getting a military vehicle, unfortunately for them during a time when the militarization of the police and Ferguson, Missouri, became huge issues, it killed the early chances to lay out the need in a way that the need itself rather than the vehicle or the symbolism would become the key issue.

If the issue is officer safety on raids and high-risk warrants, then let’s solve THAT problem.

The way this was laid out instead begs the next point made by Mr. Wolk: “Not surprisingly, at our first opportunity, the current council told the police department to get rid of the armored vehicle.”

“It is my hope that our community’s response to the MRAP sends two messages to the powers that be in Washington, D.C.,” he writes. “The first is that we need to address the militarization of our local police forces in this country. The images of militarized police in Ferguson confronting protesters have justifiably shocked the nation. But Ferguson is just one of a number of communities that have received military surplus equipment.”

I think Davis did send that message. And before people say that we’re being naïve and arrogant to believe our tiny little town matters, well, we mattered enough to get the New York Times to come out here, as well as much of the national media.

Mr. Wolk adds, “Don’t get me wrong — police preparedness is absolutely important, including in Davis. But providing MRAPs to communities like ours makes absolutely no sense. I am heartened to see that President Obama and members of Congress are calling for a re-examination of the 1033 Program, and I hope they make some significant changes to it.”

He concludes, “The second message I hope our action sends is that when it comes to help from Washington, we, like most communities, have a long wish list and have been frustrated by the partisan stalemate gripping our nation’s capital. We need to reinvest in our roads and schools. We need jobs and more funding for mental health programs. We need greater investments in clean energy and water infrastructure. But military gear, especially a tank, or an MRAP, is not on that list.”

Dan Wolk makes a lot of strong points, but I think there are two clear messages he sends that are implicit. First, he is not going to back down. So any solution that comes forward has to take into account that there are three strong votes against the MRAP.

The second is, if Davis does rescind the vote, that means there will be a second story in the New York Times and it will not be a flattering one for Davis.

The message is clear to the police: you believe officer safety is important, you want a way forward, figure out an alternative to the MRAP.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

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About The Author

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

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59 thoughts on “Sunday Commentary: Decision Forthcoming, Do You Know Where Your MRAP Is?”

  1. Tia Will

    ” looks like it belongs on the streets of Iraq or Afghanistan rather than the streets of Northern California”

    I am very proud of our mayor for his strong stance against the MRAP as a tool for Davis law enforcement. I am equally proud of Council members Freirichs and Davis for standing their ground.  I strongly believe that there are good alternatives for enhanced police protection and that these should be pursued and strengthened.

    At the moment I would like to focus on the above quote. To me, it is true, but a real tragedy that we believe that this weapon “looks like it belongs “anywhere on the face of the earth. It is much more comfortable for us to believe that it belongs somewhere where we cannot see what it is really about, namely threatening the lives of others who do  not live as we do in their homelands. Is this not exactly what we took exception to when the Twin Towers were taken down in New York. We were under attack in our homeland and we vowed revenge. Now one could argue that attacking Afghanistan was an attempt to capture those who attacked us. Not so Iraq. So now we find ourselves somehow used to the idea of using weapons on those who will not adhere to our plans for their country.

    I believe that there are probably stronger divisions in this community ( much like David’s description of the 1-4s of development) than the police anticipated. I would divide us into four groups again.

    1. Those who would automatically go along with any suggestion made by the police  regardless of merit because “after all they are here to defend us”.

    2. Those who would lean heavily towards a police suggestion but would want some kind of factual evidence that the proposal had merit.

    3. Those who would start out skeptical , but could be won over with a strong factual presentation.

    4. And then there was the wild card group completely overlooked by the police as witnessed by their failure to foresee the outcry over the tank. This group would be comprised of those who perceive the use of implements of war ( clearly designed and manufactured solely for that purpose ) as totally unacceptable for use in the context of our civilian population. This group would include pacifists , but also those who feel that the primary mission of our police is protection of the community, not a “war” against anything be it drugs, or stashes of guns, or band robbers.

    If we cannot be a country that promotes and practices peace throughout the world, can we not at least be a city that promotes and practices peace here in our own home ?

     

  2. Tia Will

    Ooops !  For the linguistic purists and those who would pounce on my post because of the inaccurate use of a word, replace

    the word “tank” with the acronym “MRAP”.

  3. Davis Progressive

    i think the chief would be well served by shifting the debate from mrap, to officer safety and looking into alternatives.  the community is supportive of it’s police, but mrap went against people’s sensibilities

     

    1. Tia Will

      DP

      Well spoken. Police safety, like citizen safety is one value that I am sure that we can all agree on. So let’s deal with that issue up front, openly and transparently, not by attempting an “end run” around legitimately held values and concerns.

  4. gunrock

    The city council has taken a position that carefully bridges the space between pathetic and comical.  Their obsession with appearance only reinforced the widely held opinion that they have no moral values whatsoever.   Our police department acted reasonably to take advantage of a free way to provide protection to their officers.  The weakness of the council in the face of a few aging hippies having flashbacks to their glory days was simply sad.  Shame on the members of the council majority for their gross dereliction of duty.

    1. Don Shor

      in the face of a few aging hippies having flashbacks to their glory days

      Are you under the impression that opposition to the MRAP was just something coming from a small proportion of the population? Have you spoken to any of the council members about the amount and intensity of the feedback they got?

    2. Tia Will

      gunrock

      My guess is that you were not at the City Council meeting and have not viewed the tape. This was not a matter of a “few aging hippies” ( although I resemble that comment). There were people speaking of all ages from late teens/ early twenties to those you have described and all ages in between.

      “Their obsession with appearance only reinforced the widely held opinion that they have no moral values whatsoever.”

      This comment also is in error. From personal communications with four of the council members, each had reached a strongly held belief on this issue well before the City Council meeting. They were not bowing to public opinion as some believe but heard no evidence presented that would have swayed them from their view going in to that meeting. What your comment really amounts to is that because they did not share your personally held values, you believe that they have no moral values whatsoever. From personal acquaintance I know that at last two of the council members that you are so blithely stating have no morals, do in fact derive their views at least in part from very strongly held personal moral belief systems.

       

       

        1. Tia Will

          gunrock

          “in that their strongly held moral belief is that the appearancet rumps actual functionality.”

          Functionality of this vehicle has not been demonstrated in the civilian setting and has even been challenged by officers who used it in the field for which it was intended, Afghanistan.

      1. Alan Miller

        “What your comment really amounts to is that because they did not share your personally held values, you believe that they have no moral values whatsoever. From personal acquaintance I know that at last two of the council members that you are so blithely stating have no morals, do in fact derive their views at least in part from very strongly held personal moral belief systems.”

        And the other two have no morals . . .

  5. Frankly

    So if it didn’t “look” like a military vehicle… no matter that the utility of the vehicle would be 100% the same… it would be acceptable?

    So apparently it is fine to discriminate on looks alone?

    It seems to me that some people are unable to fully exploit the power of their fine brains.

      1. Matt Williams

        Actually, think of the turret as “gone.”  To the best of my knowledge neither the Davis MRAP nor the West Sac MRAP have their turrets any more.  They have been removed as part of the respective processes that are getting them street ready.

  6. Tia Will

    Frankly

    “So apparently it is fine to discriminate on looks alone?”

    No. And no one but you said that. It didn’t just “look” like a military vehicle, it was one. This is not a matter of looks but of reality. I really don’t think that should be a hard point to understand.

    I do not want military vehicles, unproven in the civilian setting, to be converted to civilian use. I do not understand why this should be difficult to understand. I would be open to changing my mind if there were evidence providing proof of safety and efficacy in the civilian setting. None was provided. Not one single case or example. Another poster asked me how many lives would have to have been saved to reconsider. My answer was “one”. And not even one has been presented.

    So please explain to me how it is irrational to want evidence involving  actual cases, costs and alternatives prior to decision making.

     

     

    1. Matt Williams

      Tia, there is a disconnect somewhere here.  Are you aware that the City of Davis has had Dave, the reality is that Davis has had a prior generation military surplus MRAP since 1990 whose model name is “The Peacekeeper.” Here is an image from CapRadio.org of Sacramento’s Peacekeeper.

      <img class=”alignnone” src=”http://www.capradio.org/umbraco/ImageGen.ashx?image=/media/2512637/0910-bearcat-p-edited.jpg&amp;width=780″ alt=”” width=”780″ height=”585″ />

      It is shared with West Sacramento, just as the City’s SWAT team is shared with West Sac.  Over the past 5 years the “Peacemaker” has been deployed 43 times by the joint Davis/West Sac SWAT Team.

  7. Michael Harrington

    CC:  please finish this off and get rid of the tank.  Gift it to West Sacramento, and borrow it if needed.  If you let this drag on, it will consume your fall season and spoil the momentum going into next year.

     

    Brett Lee:  you should have voted to get rid of it.  There’s nothing more to study.

      1. Tia Will

        DP

        “that makes no sense.”

        To me it would make perfect sense if, and only if, it were to be, in the future demonstrated to be effective in our setting. There are actually two separate questions that are being addressed in this comment.

        1. Is the MRAP ever useful in the kinds of dangers that our police will encounter ?

        2. If it is proven to be useful, does that mean that Davis needs to “control” our own independently ( we do not ‘own’ it in any event) or would it be better to share utilization with another community that also has rare use needs.

        Even if need was demonstrated, Chief Black stated clearly that its anticipated use would be rare. Therefore sharing with another community would seem to be optimal practice to me.

         

         

      2. Matt Williams

        DP, in many cases what you propose makes total sense. In fact Davis and West Sac have a joint SWAT team that serves both cities. That joint SWAT team is supported by a 1980s model MRAP known as a “Peacekeeper” and a 1980s model medical support vehicle referred to as a “SWAmbulance.” There have been 43 deployments of the Peacekeeper over the past 5 years, the most recent at the Royal Oak drug/weapons raid. Approximately 30 of those 43 were events in West Sacramento and approximately 10 were events in Davis, which is why the Peacemaker and the SWAmbulance reside in West Sac.

        The expected elapsed time from the point of identification of an “active shooter” threat (think the first call at Columbine) to the point where the Peacekeeper would arrive on the scene of the active shooter incident in Davis, is between 45 minutes and an hour. At Columbine 3.2 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 the West Sac-based Peacemaker/MRAP would still be enroute to the scene of the incident. Those are very practical realities in an active shooter situation.

        1. Davis Progressive

          i’m thinking that the use of the vehicle is better as a means to serve high risk warrants.  the police have the ability to pick the time, place, location.

          you give the example of columbine, i think if you look at the event itself, you will see there was little the mrap would have been able to do.  there were no further injuries after 11:35 and its not even clear they would have been able to gain enough access for such a vehicle to make a difference.  the people were evacuating the library and the swat team didn’t enter the building until 12:06.

          it’s probably a 1 in a million to have an active shooter situation but it might also be a 1 in a million or more for the vehicle to be remedy.

          1. Matt Williams

            DP, how do you see an armored vehicle being useful in the delivery of high risk warrants? To deliver such a warrant, I would suspect that the officers have to go through the front door of a structure. I can’t imagine the role a vehicle will play in such a situation.

            Where I see an armored vehicle being useful is in an officer-down and/or citizen down situation. Drive the vehicle into a position that shields the wounded person from further line of fire, and also allows rescue personnel to depart the back (shielded) side of the vehicle and recover the wounded officer/citizen.

    1. hpierce

      Mr H has good advice for Brett Lee… let me paraphrase:  “My mind is made up… don’t confuse me with facts/information.”  Typical Mr H wise counsel.  NOT.

  8. Tia Will

    For those who have not read much about this topic, there are many articles both promoting and denigrating the safety and utility of MRAPs. I would recommend starting with this  brief informational piece from 2011 and branching out from there.

    http://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc103246/m1/1/high_res_d/RS22707_2011Jan18.pdf

    I would direct attention specifically to the paragraphs dealing with the disposal of units not used in Afghanistan due to what were essentially seen as design flaws in terms of excessive weight, limited mobility and cost of necessary revisions in the field. While in 2011, it may still have been speculative about how this oversupply of relatively unwieldy vehicles would be disposed, we now know first hand that one means was to provide them to city law enforcement.

    What some do not seem to realize is that we do not “own” this piece of equipment. The military still owns it. What this means is that what we “own” is the right to use it.  What we do not control is in what ways it can be modified, or to whom we could give it without military permission since it is still theirs. What is our part of the bargain? We are expected to maintain the piece of equipment in working order. This seems to have proven unfeasible for at least some of the units in the field who did not find this vehicle the best even for the defense against IEDs for which it was designed. What it was not designed or intended for was use against bank robbers or drug purveyors protecting their meth labs or distribution systems. So we are now in the position of having the right to use a vehicle that was never intended for use within our civilian situation, that has had major drawbacks even in the setting for which it was intended, which has proven expensive to maintain, and for which we are offered no evidence of its efficacy or safety in our situation. This seems to me to be a strongly emotion based line of reasoning on the part of the police and those supportive of its use, who are saying essentially “just trust us that this is safer because we will ‘feel’ safer if we have it.

    1. Miwok

      Yay! Someone read some of what I read about this. The problem many of you talk about is this is the wrong vehicle for the job it need to perform. The City could get something else, but the $1-2 Mil it takes to get it is not part of the equation. They got this for way less money, but the upkeep, training, and upgrades to make it suitable for integration into the”fleet” does not seem to be considered, but replacing a 30 year old vehicle with upgraded capacity sure seems like a bargain. You will have the same costs with whatever you have, or contribute to, since it is a shared vehicle.

      the other point is Davis does not want to antagonize the diverse community which is Davis, including the moron who did the science experiments in his apartment. This vehicle can be “wrapped” with something to use in parades, like a fire truck if necessary, but if it is to fight crime, statistics show Law Enforcement is so thin now they need to collaborate as described. If nothing else, the Bomb Squad could put things inside it.

  9. Anon

    “If the issue is officer safety on raids and high-risk warrants, then let’s solve THAT problem.”

    The police did solve that problem, and for a mere $6000.  Now the ball is in the City Council’s court to come up with an equally safe but politically correct solution for the protection of officers at $6000 or less.  My guess – the City Council cannot do it.

    1. Davis Progressive

      no they didn’t solve the problem.  they (a) failed to consult with the council in advance and (b) failed to account for public opinion and in so doing created a much larger problem than existed before.

      1. Matt Williams

        DP, I don’t think it is as simple as that. I believe the new/replacement MRAP arrived in Davis on August 6th. The shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson occurred on August 9th . . . which changed everything.

      2. Alan Miller

        DP, you have that spot on.  I was just about to write that.  I think that if the police had written a report to the council with a picture and stating the need and the deployment rules in advance, taking into account community sensitivity due to 11-18, they could have easily swayed at least one more council-member, and probably many in the community.  Brett Lee’s attempts to stay had some logic, but the reprucussions from the “It’s easier to ask forgiveness than to beg for permission” tactic — or a colossal lack of thinking ahead — backfired mightily in it’s tone-deaf lack of reading of the community, and I believe that is irreparable.

        1. Tia Will

          Alan

          “I believe that is irreparable.”

          If you are speaking in terms of keeping the MRAP, I agree. If you are speaking in terms of  establishing trust between the police and the community, I think that the police leadership have done a good job in building police community relations and will continue  on that course especially if they learn from this misstep and are consistent in their transparency and willingness to consider community values instead of making major policy decisions unilaterally.

          1. Matt Williams

            Well said Tia.

            Regarding “the misstep” would it have actually been a misstep if Ferguson hadn’t happened ex post facto?

          1. Matt Williams

            Why? When you have an asset (your automobile for instance) that has exceeded its useful life, do you typically replace it? … or do you adjust your life to do without an automobile?

    2. Tia Will

      Anon

      “Now the ball is in the City Council’s court to come up with an equally safe but politically correct solution for the protection of officers at $6000 or less.  My guess – the City Council cannot do it.”

      So would you limit the City Council to $6,000 dollars arbitrarily if they were to demonstrate that there was a better solution to the MRAP to keeping our police officers and our entire community safe ?

  10. Dave Hart

    The MRAP is a great vehicle if you are at war.  Like any expensive or exotic tool, if you don’t have one, you will find a way to get the job done without it.  If you do have one, you’ll find excuses to use it even when it’s not totally justified.  It is one thing for me to justify buying a chainsaw to my wife and exaggerate my need for it.  It’s only $300 not including trips to the emergency room.  The MRAP is a black hole for officer training time and maintenance money not including the added feeling in the community that we are at war.

    1. South of Davis

      Dave wrote:

      > The MRAP is a black hole for officer training time and maintenance money

      I also think the MRAP will be a big waste of money that we will never “need” to use.

      I wonder if the people that want to keep the MRAP have looked in to sponsors to cover the cost?  We could add stickers (like on a NASCAR car) from the NRA, Colt Firearms, Sabre Pepper Spray and maybe even rename the MRAP the “Officer Pike Memorial Protest Buster”…

    2. Matt Williams

      Dave, the reality is that Davis has had a prior generation military surplus MRAP since 1990 whose model name is “The Peacekeeper.” Here is an image from CapRadio.org of Sacramento’s Peacekeeper.

      1. Frankly

        Crickets on this Matt.  Don’t upset the upset-fest with this inconvenient fact.  They are all wee weed up over the MRAP and you come along and tell them we already had an MRAP.

        Shame on you!

    3. tribeUSA

      Dave Hart-Re: “Like any expensive or exotic tool, if you don’t have one, you will find a way to get the job done without it.  If you do have one, you’ll find excuses to use it even when it’s not totally justified.” Spot-on, in my life experience!

      I think the MRAP is a genuinely difficult issue; one of the reasons it has persisted on this forum so long. Some good arguments for and against it. I guess I lean more against it; out of concern about the national trend of the increasing militarization of police, and in the hope that the expense saved will be a resource re-directed toward maintaining and increasing smart police work; finding ways to get things done without the MRAP!

      1. Matt Williams

        tribe, I tend to lean more against it too; however, as you can see by the (hopefully) objective posting of factual information I have been doing over the past few days, there is more available information/evidence than we have let ourselves believe there is. The potential for increased militarization is certainly a concern … a concern that is well worth taking seriously. My personal concerns are precisely why I undertook some factual investigation. What I found is that Davis has had an armored vehicle procured from military surplus since 1990. Have we seen increased militarization in Davis since the arrival of that armored vehicle in 1990?

  11. Cecilia Escamilla-Greenwald

    Thank you Dan Wolk, Robb Davis and Lucas Frerichs for your your vote on this matter.  We do not want or need a military vehicle in our community.  Our officers are doing a great job with what they have and if they are in need of updating their police armored vehicle or other  equipment then the city council and and the community should know about it.  It’s the discussion that should be taking place as opposed to whether or not to have a military vehicle.  It’s time to move the discussion forward and talk about the needs of the PD.

  12. Don Shor

    If the council spends more than a few minutes total on the MRAP issue at any upcoming meeting, they are wasting everyone’s time. That equipment is going back. The police department budget for operations & maintenance and interdepartmental charges (which seems to be where fleet operations now go) is in excess of $1 million per year. The police chief can make decisions about safe vehicles and any other equipment that he feels his officers need. The council doesn’t need to review those decisions except in the context of the overall budget. If he thinks they need something in excess of what that $1 million+ budget allows, there are probably grant funds available.

    They can share equipment with other agencies. They can acquire something else if the chief feels it’s necessary. Cost-sharing and cross-training already occur. When any local agency needs something, they can get it. If they need funds to facilitate better inter-agency cooperation, they have those funds. If they need more money, they can get more money via the usual budget processes.

    I think it’s very clear to the police chief as to what would be acceptable to city residents and leaders now. They don’t need to micromanage his decisions. This particular acquisition turned out to be a mistake, and I doubt anything like it will happen again. There is little to be served by continuing to harp on the issue, and I can’t figure out what is motivating some people to keep it alive – nor where the intensity of their opinions is coming from, or the basis of all their scorn. It’s done.

  13. Tia Will

    Matt

    My comment is not meant to single you out. There are other posters who have been continuing to make the point that none of the objection to the MRAP would have been there if it weren’t for Fergurson. While I cannot speak for anyone else, I again ( since I have posted this previously )tell you that Fergurson did not even come to mind for me. I have a very long memory when it comes to police and military excesses and use of excessive force on the home front. So for me, perhaps if all of the following had not happened during the course of my own memory ( not quite ancient history) perhaps I would not have objected:

    Excessive force against blacks in the south ( police dogs, clubs, firehoses)

    Protests of the Vietnam War including Kent State

    Waco

    Ruby Ridge

    The Move bombing in Phildelphia

    The WTO protests in Seattle ( where the chief of police at the time has assessed the situation as one in which the police force under his command escalated the situation into one of violence,,,,,his assessment, not mine)

    The UCD pepper spraying incident.

    Perhaps if none of these incidents had happened I would not have objected to the MRAP either. Now I am sure that each of you can go through and find reasons why you don’t think any given incident applies. My belief is that they all apply. Police are humans and humans are subject to error. I do not doubt that at least most of the police involved believed at the time that they were doing the right thing. Unfortunately the outcomes were poor ( in some cases catastrophic).

    I want our police to be safe.And I want our citizens to be safe. And I do not believe that this kind of escalation of war designed gear in an endless ratcheting up of “fire power” is the best way to achieve both of those goals. I think that we should be addressing as a community ( not as isolated parts) how best to achieve the safety of all. This cannot be done by disregarding community sentiment. And yes, that includes the sentiment of those who want to keep the MRAP. Too bad neither side was given the opportunity to weigh in before the decision to acquire was made.

    1. Matt Williams

      I don’t feel singled out at all Tia. I ask the questions I ask because they are questions I ask of myself. What I also find myself asking is where “macro” level concerns (like the ones you have raised in the list above) end and where “micro” level concerns (those we have experienced here in Davis) begin. One of those questions I ask myself is , “We have had an armored vehicle here in Davis, being used by the Davis police in joint tactical events with West Sacramento using the joint SWAT Team those two cities share, since 1990. Why have I not been actively protesting the presence of that armored vehicle in our midst?”

      The question you pose in your final paragraph prompts an additional question for me, specifically, “Are we simply replacing an existing armored vehicle that has past its useful life, or are we ‘ratcheting up fire power’?”

  14. Tia Will

    Matt

    The previous existence of an armored vehicle in our town says nothing at all about the need for one. Anyone who has ever cleaned out a garage can speak to the truth of this. The item you are considering may or may not have ever been useful and may or may not need replacement.

    So the questions that I posed to the police still stand.

    1. How many times was our previous armored vehicle used ?  In how many of these instances was the MRAP needed urgently, say in less than the 45 minutes to one hour needed to get one housed in an adjacent community ?

    2. Did it save any lives , either civilian or police ? How many and under what circumstances ?

    3. Could another vehicle have served the same purpose ?

    4. Could another tactic have saved the same purpose ?

    5. Is it  more cost effective to have our own or would sharing with another community serve the same need ?

    6. Do we have other police or community safety needs that could be better served with what we would spend on maintenance and ongoing training for the use of this vehicle ?

     

    1. Matt Williams

      Tia, I asked many of the same questions, and here are the answers I got.

      1. Over the past five (5) years the existing armored vehicle (model name “The Peacekeeper”) was deployed by the joint West Sac / Davis SWAT Team a total of 43 times, with approximately 25% of those deployments in Davis. The most recent deployment was in the Royal Oak assault weapons / drug event. The “Peacekeeper” actually broke down enroute to/from the incident.

      2. No lives were lost in any of the incidents … the ideal outcome.

      3. The only other vehicle available is the SWAT Team’s 1980’s model ambulance, which has no munitions resistance. other than that there are police cars.

      4. The deployment of the vehicle is made in anticipation of an active shooter situation, where an injured citizen is in the active shooter’s field of fire. The vehicle would be driven into the line of fire between the shooter and the injured citizen in order to shield the citizen and to shield the officers who are affecting a rescue of the wounded citizen.

      5. As noted to Davis Progressive over the weekend, the expected elapsed time from the point of identification of an “active shooter” threat (think the first call at Columbine) to the point where the Peacekeeper would arrive on the scene of the active shooter incident in Davis, is between 45 minutes and an hour. At Columbine 3.2 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 the West Sac-based Peacemaker/MRAP would still be enroute to the scene of the incident. Those are very practical realities in an active shooter situation.

      6. That is an excellent dialogue that the community should be having.

      1. South of Davis

        Matt wrote:

        > As noted to Davis Progressive over the weekend, the expected

        > elapsed time from the point of identification of an “active shooter”

        >threat (think the first call at Columbine) to the point where the

        > Peacekeeper would arrive on the scene of the active shooter incident

        >in Davis, is between 45 minutes and an hour.

        It is 14 miles from the West Sac Police Department to Davis High and Google Maps says it takes 19 minutes going the speed limit,  It would be easy to make the drive in under 15 minutes “code three” (people are going to get out of the way of the Peacekeeper or the MRAP).  Why will it take the cops 30 to 45 minutes to roll when the Davis Fire Department (and just about every other department) is rolling in a few minutes with some SWAT teams even under a minute (see link below):

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_o0U_0WBSPU

         

        1. Matt Williams

          I asked the same question of Chief Black when we met on Thursday. His answer was that the SWAT staffing is not centralized like Fire Department staffing, plus the vehicle is also not located at the same location as the officers, so there is a “command and control” decision to respond to the Davis request, a command and control decision about how to back fill the sections of the West Sacramento police deployments that the SWAT officers will be pulled from (in some cases contacting an officer who is off duty), and then the time it gets for the designated officers to get to the vehicle in order to get it rolling. In addition, my understanding (but I could be wrong) is that its top speed is 30 mph.

        2. South of Davis

          Matt wrote:

          > I asked the same question of Chief Black when we met on Thursday.

          >  His answer was that the SWAT staffing is not centralized like Fire

          > Department staffing

          So you have the first person to get to the MRAP take off for Davis and the rest of the guys from West Sac can catch up in cars (that are a lot faster than the MRAP) and jump in when he gets to Davis.

          > so there is a “command and control” decision to respond to the Davis request,

          If it takes a half hour to decide to send help to Davis when a shooter is taking out kids in the hall of the High School we have real problems.

          > my understanding (but I could be wrong) is that its top speed is 30 mph.

          Google is your friend most MRAPS seem to top out at 65mph due to a speed limiter (and I found one that looks a little smaller than ours) that has a 77mph top speed.

          If it really takes an hour to get a MRAP in West Sac to a school in Davis when kids are getting shot we need to fire everyone in charge and start over (as a parent I could leave work drive to West Sac get the MRAP and get back to Davis in under an hour)…

          Lucky this will probably never happen and we won’t need the MRAP (sure it could happen and ISIS or the Taliban “could” blow up the Co-Op tomorrow when I stop by for a cup of coffee)…

  15. Anon

    So why is it okay for West Sac to house an MRAP, but it is only appropriate/politically correct for Davis to “borrow it” when necessary?  This makes absolutely no sense to me.

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