Council Will Take Further Look at Police Protective Vehicle, But Expresses Doubts About Cost, Need

Chief Black discusses possible Police Protective Vehicle options before council
Chief Black discusses possible Police Protective Vehicle options before council

The Davis City Council is willing to look further into the costs of acquiring a Police Protective Vehicle (PPV), however, the police acknowledged that it was not a spending priority and two of the councilmembers who voted to send back the MRAP expressed doubts about the need and fit in our community.

Unlike last fall, there was little public interest in the item. Councilmember Rochelle Swanson asked that staff and police bring back a report showing a continuum of vehicles available – police protection vehicles, not military vehicles – along with pictures and pricing, in order for the council to make a full evaluation.

Councilmember Brett Lee seconded the motion. Robb Davis offered a friendly amendment about looking into partnering with UC Davis on the vehicle.

Councilmember Lee noted that, eight months ago, “we heard some concerns raised about the militarization aspect and also the specific concern about this being a military vehicle. We also heard concerns about the acquisition process.”

He continued, “I think since that vote, we’ve eliminated the concern about the military vehicle. We had a couple of concerns raised that the military vehicle symbolically was problem and physically wasn’t the most appropriate vehicle to be used in a civilian environment just in terms of maneuverability and did its purpose match what our purpose might be.”

He stated, “I think those concerns have been addressed and now eight months later, the process has clearly been transparent.”

Mayor Pro Tem Robb Davis said that, back in October, he was interested in hearing about civilian options that are more maneuverable and can be used in a broad array of potential situations in the community.

“The only caveat I put in there is that I really felt and still feel strongly that we need to pursue, intentionally, the university to see if they’d be willing to jointly acquire, manage, and train in the use of it,” the Mayor Pro Tem said. He noted that they are “twin cities” and have expressed the need for such a vehicle.

“I’m not sold yet on the notion of pursuing a police protective vehicle,” Councilmember Lucas Frerichs stated. He was willing to support the motion and perform due diligence on the issue to inform the council. He noted that, prior to the acquisition of the MRAP, the city utilized the Peacekeeper through West Sacramento and he said he believes that kind of arrangement continues to take care of the needs of the city.

Councilmember Frerichs said that there needs to be a police oversight surrounding the usage of the vehicle. “If we proceed,” he said, “I think we should be looking at specific language regarding the use of dynamic entries or high risk warrant service.” He noted that this is the general policy of the Davis Police Department anyway, but he would like to formalize it to see “the more specific nuts and bolts as to how it would potentially be utilized if it were to be acquired.”

Councilmember Frerichs also expressed concern about the initial costs along with ongoing costs. “I do believe it’s important to know what all the costs are, not just the initial purchase,” he added.

Mayor Dan Wolk said, “I will be supporting this motion in so far as I see it just providing council more information.”

However, the mayor continued, “I remain deeply skeptical of the wisdom of pursuing this.”

He asked Chief Landy Black, if the council had $175,000 or $400,000, “my guess is your top priority would not be acquiring an armored vehicle.”

Chief Black responded, “When we talked about this last fall, that’s exactly what I said and I remain committed to that view. When we prioritized our police operations – that did not end up high on our priorities. The utility of the vehicle juxtaposed against the low price [with] the 1033 Program, made it an easier thing to acquire at that time.”

He added, “The conversation did expose us to an entirely different dynamic and it becomes sort of a priority through the discussion, but I would not want to change the direction the police department is going in its normal daily police operations to acquire this vehicle.”

The chief did add, however, that he believes that there are much more economical ways to acquire this vehicle. He thinks due diligence can put this into the area of a much more manageable expense.

Mayor Wolk turned to City Manager Dirk Brazil and said, “When you’re looking citywide, if the city had $400,000 to put somewhere, I imagine that if it’s certainly not the police department’s top priority to put it there, I imagine citywide there’s even a greater precedent of needs over an armored vehicle.”

Dirk Brazil responded, “The budget reflects basically what the department heads put forward – this is what we need – and that’s what you see in front of you. But obviously the budget is something that can be amended by the five of you.”

“Generically across the board, I don’t think it’s the most important thing,” he said. “We’ve talked a lot about streets and roads, we’ve talked about pools, we’ve talked about infrastructure needs – but you know we have a lot of needs.”

Dan Wolk added, “It’s my hope when it does come back that the council doesn’t think about it in a vacuum .” He said, even if UC Davis is interested or if it comes in at $175,000, “that the council consider that there may be other needs for that funding.”

—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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29 thoughts on “Council Will Take Further Look at Police Protective Vehicle, But Expresses Doubts About Cost, Need”

  1. Tia Will

    I think those concerns have been addressed and now eight months later, the process has clearly been transparent.”

    Kudos to the police, staff and city council for this. A transparent, evidence based approach with a relative needs comparison ! My thanks to all involved.


  2. Miwok

    since it has been proven and documented that the use of the MRAP is rare, and the surrounding communities have this covered, then Davis even buying one is doing it for show. Waste again?

    The LE agencies all work together on certain tasks (YONET, SWAT) so training will only be duplicated in different vehicles.

  3. Frankly

    So, the police prioritized the MRAP based on the cost benefit of the MRAP, but would put another more costly vehicle lower on the list.  That makes sense from a business perspective… harm risk mitigation utility – vs. – overall cost.

    But then the CC decision to eliminate the MRAP over political sensitivities is responsible for changing the cost-benefit calculation with a more expensive alternative.

    So, in the end, if the CC does not agree to fund a suitable alternative vehicle, the CC will be accountable for any harm to any police officer or citizen that would have been protected by the missing MRAP or missing other vehicle.  I will make sure to remind everyone if and when that unfortunate thing happens.  I am sure that the politicians will say “but the police department said it was a low priority” in that case… trying to slip away from responsibility for their politically-motivated decision to reject the free vehicle.   Let’s hope that decision does not haunt them in their ongoing political pursuits.

    1. David Greenwald Post author

      If the police were that concerned about officer safety – wouldn’t they prioritize the vehicle. It seems like you’re trying to have it both ways. The police see this as a nice to have rather than a need to have.

      1. Barack Palin

        I’ll bet the police are saying whatever they’re told to say at this point.  They originally wanted the MRAP, they wouldn’t have asked for one if they didn’t, but now their hands are imo being politically tied.

        1. David Greenwald Post author

          Chief Black same the same thing last year. They were willing to take a “free” one last year but they are not willing to have it impact their ability to get more officers. That’s precisely what Chief Black said in October.

        2. Matt Williams

          BP, I believe (but I could be wrong) that they asked for the MRAP before they knew that West Sac had successfully applied for and ordered a MRAP replacement for the then-current armored vehicle called the Peacekeeper, which was also procured from the military.

          If you and Mrs. Palin know you need a toaster oven, and you are out at Williams-Sonoma and buy one, but find out it has a defect and you return it to the store, which is out of stock, when you get home and discover that Mrs. Palin bought one during her trip out to the store, do you still feel the need to go back to Williams-Sonoma and buy one when they are restocked?

    2. Anon

      So, the police prioritized the MRAP based on the cost benefit of the MRAP, but would put another more costly vehicle lower on the list.  That makes sense from a business perspective… harm risk mitigation utility – vs. – overall cost.

      But then the CC decision to eliminate the MRAP over political sensitivities is responsible for changing the cost-benefit calculation with a more expensive alternative.

      So, in the end, if the CC does not agree to fund a suitable alternative vehicle, the CC will be accountable for any harm to any police officer or citizen that would have been protected by the missing MRAP or missing other vehicle.

      Spot on, Frankly!

  4. Alan Miller

    The argument of Frankly and Anon is a bit like:

    • A bicycle advocacy group says more children should bike to school.

    • This would promote the health of the child and reduce vehicle traffic (parents driving kids to school).

    • Bicycling is very safe, but there is a minute risk.

    • A Frankly/Anon metaphoric equivalent type says to the bicycle advocate, “If I do this and my child is killed by by a car or abducted by a child molester, it will be your fault.”

    • Thus, parent continues to drive child school, burning fossil fuels unnecessarily, creating traffic, child weighs more, child learns cars are how you get around, child learns parents drive kids to school, continues those values with next generation.

    • Note: Child is not hit by a car or kidnapped by a child molester.

    1. Frankly

      Your metaphor fails to account for the decision maker.

      The decision maker is accountable.  The parent is the decision maker… the appropriate decision maker considering it is her child at risk.

      In this case the police department is the “parent” and the parent was overruled by the rulers.  So the rulers have adopted accountability by rejecting the decision of the parent and forcing their will.  And we know that their will was 100% political.

      1. Alan Miller

        You focused on the limitation of my metaphor rather than the point of my metaphor, then tried to use the part of my metaphor that was stretched to continue the metaphor to show why the metaphor didn’t work.  Great #sarcasm#.

      2. Tia Will


        In this case the police department is the “parent” and the parent was overruled by the rulers.”

        Fundamental point of difference of opinion in your analogy. In this case, the police are not the “parent”. The are at most “co parents with the city council “.  A joint decision about an acquisition of this type should have been made between “coparents” from the beginning. We are after all in a representative democracy, not a police state ( which would be the true police as parent situation). At least the last time I looked.  Frankly, Frankly, this is one of your scarier posts if you truly believe what you wrote.

  5. aaahirsch8

    I attended the very productive police forums over the last year.

    There I learned from the Chief that this armored vehicle is needed due to “bad guys” having hi power weapons and a local vehicle was needed for quick response. However, the police did now share some data that is now very relevant.

    To analyze how cost/effective this tool would be, I would like to know—as should council:

    a. how many time police have been shot at by any weapon over last 5 or more years? Trends?

    b. How any times from a hi-powered weapon?

    c. How many times the SWAT team has been deployed in Davis (i,e, exclude times Davis team helped the West Sac Team do a West Sac deployment)

    d. and of those SWAT times in Davis, how many times were of an “emergency” nature where there was no time to borrow an armored vehicle from West Sac/Woodland? (Chief sad most of SWAT deployment were now planned….)

    e. How many times a SWAT raid uncovered hi powered weapons?

    f. How many times the SWAT team was fired on by any gun? By hi-powered gun?

    Also, as our sample size is small, It would be interesting to see about the same figures for Woodland and West Sac and maybe others parts of Suburban Sac Region (i.e. Sac County Sheriff)

    As productive as the police/community forum was, I was disappointed they never gave this information to us to show us the extend of the need for a locally based armored car.    

    We also might see if there is data on cost effectiveness of this tool vs tools for firefighter safety?

    Such statistics would move us out the realm of emotion and subjectivity…and help objectify the cost/benefit of this tool vs other things to improve community safety.





    1. Alan Miller

      A single horrific incident would change everything.  A single horrific incident may never happen.  The statistics with such a small sample set are meaningless.

      It’s really a policy decision — spend a lot of money for something that may never happen because an armored vehicle may help in case it does; or spend the money on what the police department admits are higher priorities.

      My bet is Davis does not buy an armored vehicle.

      I also bet that if a horrific incident happens in Davis, Frank Lee will spend the rest of his life writing angry comments in the Vanguard blaming everyone who was in favor of ousting the MRAP

        1. Matt Williams

          BP, we already have a “free one” it is parked each day in the same parking space in West Sacramento that the Peacekeeper armored vehicle was parked in for over 20 years from the early 1990’s to present.

      1. Matt Williams

        Alan, the MRAP wasn’t ousted. The second MRAP was ousted. The “first” shiny, new MRAP supporting the joint Davis/West Sacramento SWAT team resides each day in West Sacramento, just like the original MRAP, the Peacekeeper, has done in the 20-year period from the early 1990’s to 2015.

  6. aaahirsch8

    Further questions council should ask on the MRAP replacement cost effectiveness

    G,. Chief said at the policy forum that it takes a long time (45 min or over and hour?) to get an armored vehicle from West Sac/Woodland to Davis on an emergency basis…

    How much of this delay improvement would there be with having a vehicle staged in Davis vs elsewhere…given that Davis and Woodland are about a 10 mine drive at freeway speeds Davis most times of the day some of the delay must be due to team assembly, which assumedly would be just as much if the vehicle is staged in Davis.   SO….how much Real improvement in response time is their with having a Davis-based vehicle vs one elsewhere?

    H. What could be done to improve response time from these communities for the vehicle?   Has this been explored over that last 12 months? If not, why not if its an important consideration? 

    I. It might be interesting to see what response times are like for Sac Police and Sac County Sheriff who cover an even larger suburban likes area than Davis-to-Woodland geography.  What are their actual response time in emergency deployment — and what do they consider “acceptable”—i.e. by having our own vehicle are we striving to have a “gold plated response times” vs that found acceptable in other jurisdictions?

    J. There are fire department response times standards..what are standards used elsewhere?   How many vehicles per sq. mile coverage is the standard for such vehicle in larger cities? 

    K. Just to bracket things, it might be useful to know what the response times were for the military for emergency deployment in Iraqi and Afghanistan.

    1. David Greenwald Post author

      One of the points that Chief Black and Assistant Chief Pytel made to me was that they actually most of the time want to slow down the situations. Time is on their side they said. So it’s not clear that speed is of the essence most of the time and for most uses.

  7. Tia Will

    So just to make sure that I have that clear, if speed is not of the essence, then why would it matter if the armored vehicle were housed in a neighboring community if their need was greater ?

    1. Matt Williams

      Good question Tia. A variant on that question is why in the 20-year period that the City of Davis was supported by the Peacekeeper armored vehicle (from the early 1990’s to present) was its location in West Sacramento not a problem?

  8. PhilColeman

    We seem to be needlessly revisiting issues that are not issues. The physical storage location of a police armored vehicle is irreverent.

    Any delay in mobilization of a SWAT-type team of specialists and companion vehicle is found in the physical location of the OFFICERS not the vehicle. To repeat, there is no team of SWAT officers at the ready when such a call-out is summoned. Most, if not all, the SWAT team members will be off-duty, in court, on vacation, injured, ill, getting married, drinking beer while watching a sports event, all those everyday things that every other human does while when off the job.

    The one remarkably lucky exception in my recall of 3-decades was a time where a SWAT team happened to be in a training exercise when a real event happened.

    In a matter of speaking, the MRAP “reports for duty” far quicker than the folks who are going to drive and ride. Anybody qualified to drive the vehicle casually goes out and brings it into the muster point.

  9. zaqzaq

    Our mayor is an idiot on this issue.  How elitist of our CC to reject the MRAP because it is not consistent with the city’s values and there should not be one in the City of Davis.  But it is ok to check your ego at the door and borrow one from W. Sac or Woodland when you need it.  That is like a cotton farmer in the old south before the civil war who rejects slavery instead hiring workers to pick his cotton.  Then when he does not have sufficient funds to hire the workers he needs he asks to borrow his neighbors slaves to harvest his crop.

    The professionals hired by the city found a bargain and acquired it.  They were told to get rid of it because it is not a good fit based on values.  Dumb Dan even published an oped in the SF Chronicle which he lauded opposing the acquisition and claiming that the MRAP was not needed in the city of Davis.  He applauded the coverage of the issue in the NY Times.  Others on the CC said let’s look at the Bearcat which is a better.  It is less militaristic and more maneuverable.  It will better meet the needs of the police.  Now it is coming down to the money which we do not have to make this acquisition.  The professionals in law enforcement have better things to do with that money.  They rejected the bargain on values and cannot afford the ideal solution.  This is not how most of us live.  We have limited budgets and have to provide housing, food, medical and transportation for our families.  A larger house may be ideal but unaffordable so we purchase the best fit.  I might want a Testla but have to  settle for a Prius because I can afford it.  I would really like to see the NY Times do an interview with Dan in a Bubble on the use of the very same MRAP that the he rejected that was needed in an emergency situation and will be used again in the future.  How does he balance the use with the publicly proclaimed values of our city or should I say his values because they are not mine.  I would have kept the bargain MRAP as something that was needed and something that we could afford.

    1. David Greenwald Post author

      “But it is ok to check your ego at the door and borrow one from W. Sac or Woodland when you need it. ”

      This is a point we’ve raised – the mayor didn’t make the decision to call in an MRAP, the police did.

      1. zaqzaq


        It sounds like you are defending the mayor on this issue.  If the mayor was consistent with his purported values the MRAPs would be banned from Davis and the police prohibited from bringing them in.  That would create all sorts of liability issues.  Instead the mayor gets political on the issue and sets the condition for the police to borrow when needed that which they are prohibited from acquiring based on community values.  Now he just looks stupid.  Much like the recent revelation on New Homes anti mello roos policy in Irvine.  He is just a political whore looking for a more lucrative john (higher office).

        1. David Greenwald Post author

          I am defending the mayor on this issue. The issue of removing the MRAP from the city is more complicated than the issue of whether the city can/ should use it periodically. BTW, it’s not completely inconsistent. Too much of the debate was focused on the issue of symbollics involving the acquisition of the vehicle, too little was focused on tactics. The issue was raised by Lucas on Tuesday. Obviously if the city has to wait two hours to get an MRAP it will be harder to overreach. That said, I wrote two columns questioning whether the police should be able to call upon vehicles that were removed and that issue has not been taken up – yet. But should be in my view.

  10. zaqzaq


    You should be calling him a hypocrite for not coming out an criticizing the use of these MRAP that he so very publicly said were not the right fit for Davis.  You are right that the debate was to focused on the symbolism of the MRAP BUT the mayor led the charge that the MRAP was a symbol of the militarization of the police and not a good fit for Davis.  He ignorantly referred to it as a tank but in hindsight that technically incorrect reference was most likely purposeful to support his position.  He did not tailor his argument to the tactics or compare it to another option like Rob Davis.  His position played well politically in the public eye.  And then the very same MRAP came to town and he was silent.  No comment.  No oped.  Just silence.   There are no restrictions in place on the police use of the MRAPs.  They could require prior City Manager or mayoral approval upon request from the police prior to the MRAP entering town.  They will never prohibit the police from using the vehicle for liability reasons.  Can you imagine the scenario where the city manager tells the police that they cannot use the MRAP when requested and an officer or civilian is injured or killed during the subsequent operation.  Not only would the liability be astounding but the political fallout would be enormous.  Dan Wolk took a very strong political stance on the MRAP (aka tank).  He was silent on its use.  He is a hypocrite on this issue and should be called on it regardless of whether you support or oppose the acquisition of the MRAP.  I thought that the police should have been allowed to keep it as a necessary tool that, while not perfect (See Bearcat), was a necessary improvement over their existing equipment that fit the city’s budget.  They do not have the luxury of purchasing a Bearcat in the existing budget.

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