Call to Action Regarding Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) Vehicle

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By Matt Williams

The Yolo County Sheriff’s office is seeking authorization from the Yolo County Board of Supervisors to acquire excess equipment from the Department of Defense, including a Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle. Read the staff report here.

I have sent the following personal e-mail to all five Supervisors sharing my thoughts about why they should unanimously vote “No” on this authorization.  If democracy is to work well, the citizens need to communicate with their elected officials on important issues, and I believe this is one of those important issues.

Regardless of what your position is on this issue, please take a moment and share your opinion with the Supervisors, who can be reached at:

Jim Provenza <jim.provenza@yolocounty.org>

Don Saylor <don.saylor@yolocounty.org>

Matt Rexroad <matt.rexroad@yolocounty.org>

Duane Chamberlain <duane.chamberlain@yolocounty.org>

Oscar Villegas <oscar.villegas@yolocounty.org>


Supervisor Provenza and Deputy Supervisor Reed,

Consent-Law & Justice Services Item #16 on the February 21st Yolo County Supervisors Meeting agenda concerns Permission to Apply for Certification in the Law Enforcement Support Office Program and Receive MRAP Vehicle.  I strongly urge a unanimous “No” vote on any consideration of the “receive MRAP vehicle” portion of the item.

The reasons for my recommendation are simple and straightforward.  Specifically the Yolo County Sheriff’s SWAT Team already has one MRAP in its arsenal, why does it need a second one?

The Staff Report for this item is misleading at best.  It does not disclose the fact that the Yolo County SWAT Team is a combined unit with the City of Woodland.  The staff report also does not disclose the fact that since 2015 the combined Yolo County/Woodland SWAT team equipment includes a shiny new MRAP procured through the same Federal Government LESO military surplus program that Sheriff Prieto is asking for permission to participate in.

To balance out this failure of the Staff Report to fully disclose the facts regarding the Yolo County SWAT team’s current MRAP, I suggest the Supervisors direct  Sheriff Prieto to park the existing MRAP in front of the Administration Building on the morning of February 21st and have it remain there all day.

A decision by the Supervisors to proceed with receiving an MRAP vehicle would be fiscally irresponsible.  The statement in the Staff Report that a “Yes” decision would have “No Fiscal Impact” is 100% incorrect.  There will be costs not currently in the County Budget associated with the delivery of the vehicle to Woodland if it is procured through the LESO Program.  There will be costs not currently in the County Budget associated with the specialized training of operators and/or maintainers of the vehicle.  There will be costs not currently in the County Budget associated with the periodic maintenance of the vehicle.  There will be costs not currently in the County Budget associated with the storage of the vehicle. The Staff Report attempts to play a game of “Hide the Pea” when it says “Should the Sheriff’s Office be awarded an MRAP vehicle, any outfitting or repair costs will be built into the regular budget cycle. The Sheriff’s Office will return for Board approval if any equipment associated with the MRAP vehicle over the fixed asset threshold needs to be purchased.”  An informative Staff Report would have performed the due diligence necessary to provide clear estimates of what the costs are.

Bottom-line, the Yolo County SWAT Team does not need this second MRAP and a decision by the Supervisors to reicive one from the LESO program would be an irresponsible waste of taxpayer money.  Please exercise your fiduciary duty to the taxpayers, citizens and residents of Yolo County and vote “No” on this item.

Respectfully submitted,

Matt Williams

Yolo County Resident

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22 thoughts on “Call to Action Regarding Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) Vehicle”

  1. Tia Will

    Matt

    Thank you for putting this article on the Vanguard. Below is the letter that I have sent to the supervisors on this issue.

    I am writing in opposition to the acquisition of a second MRAP for availability to the Yolo County/ Woodland  SWAT team. I am in opposition for 3 main reasons.

    1. Lack of need.  I follow the local and regional news on a regular basis and have seen no persuasive evidence that there is sufficient demand for two such explosive resistant devices in our area.
    2. Ongoing cost. While it might be tempting to get such a vehicle for “free” from government surplus, the funds needed for training in the use of and upkeep of the vehicle could certainly be used for other purposes of equal if not greater merit within the community.
    3. Community trust. At a time when Mr. Rexroad himself has just written a piece on the need for great community support of and trust in its law enforcement officers, I think that a better way to achieve those goals would be a larger focus on community policing rather than even the perception of a heavier reliance on militarization of our safety officers.
    I am requesting your no vote on this acquisition and thank you in advance for your consideration,
    Tia Will, MD
    Davis

     

    1. Matt Williams

      David, the prospect of abuse is a subjective issue seen very differently by different people.  A conservative rural resident of the unincorporated County will probably see that issue in very different terms than a liberal City resident.  In my letter I tried to stick to the clear-cut, quantifiable issues.  I feel they are massively compelling all by themselves.

        1. Matt Williams

          I wasn’t saying that there wasn’t room for that David.  I simply explained the approach I took in my letter.  As I said, I believe that specific approach is massively compelling in its own right.

  2. Todd Edelman

    Agree that there will be costs just to sit around or be used for training, but also I assume there will be costs to return it (or will its Federal or State source just send someone to drive it away?).
    Yolo County should return it for any good reason or reasons, but it’s quite obvious it will be a burden somewhere else… just passively – for lack of a better term, inappropriately (i.e. not an example of reformed police tactics) or against legitimate political opposition.
    So the most fiscally – and for some morally- responsible thing to do is to have the county pay OR crowdsource the costs of environmentally-required disposal of its various engine and other fluids, siphon out the fuel, remove any weaponry – and certain parts if they can be spares for the other MRAP – and place it somewhere appropriate and accessible to the public during normal hours so it can be used as a source of metal or other materials for art or anything, really.

    1. Matt Williams

      Todd, the issue of return costs is an interesting one.  When the Davis City Council made its decision in 2015 to return the MRAP, the option of transferring the “rights” to the vehicle to the combined Woodland/Yolo County SWAT Team was a ready and convenient solution.  Therefore, we do not know what complications and costs would have been associated with a vehicle return.

  3. Howard P

    Two comments…

    first, Matt, your “read here” link comes up as invalid… try,

    http://yoloagenda.yolocounty.org:8085/agenda_publish.cfm?id=&mt=BOS&get_month=2&get_year=2017&dsp=agm&seq=5955&rev=0&ag=1748&ln=55379&nseq=5950&nrev=0&pseq=5916&prev=0#ReturnTo55379

    second, unlike Davis, where the MRAP was acquired prior to CC authorization, the Sheriff’s Office is requesting two things:

    To apply for certification to participate in the Law Enforcement Support Office (LESO) program;
    Consent to the Sheriff’s Office requesting, through the LESO program, and, if awarded, receiving a Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle.

    So the BOS could approve A, and reject or defer action on B

    Now if the BOS approves B, why would they anticipate getting rid of the MRAP?  So why would they need to consider disposal at this time, other than a disclosure, that if a future BOS decides this BOS made a bad decision, or when the vehicle IF acquired, got to the end of its useful life, there would be disposal costs?  The latter would be true of ANY vehicle purchase made.

    If I opposed acquisition of the MRAP and/or its ‘deployment’, I’d focus on on the acquisition piece… focusing on the disposal costs, is “silly”.

    If I favored the acquisition, I’d focus on the need, vis-a-vis operational costs.

    I support the A. recommendation.

    As to the B. recommendation, I neither support nor oppose it.

    And please, no-one should dare to challenge me on my last two statements… feel free to challenge me on facts.  As to my opinion, it’s mine, I own it, and there is nada you can do to change it… so don’t bother trying… I’ll ignore that piece, and will not respond if challenge to my opinion.

    1. Howard P

      The original formatting didn’t “stick”… for clarity,

      A:  To apply for certification to participate in the Law Enforcement Support Office (LESO) program;

      B:  Consent to the Sheriff’s Office requesting, through the LESO program, and, if awarded, receiving a Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle.

    2. Matt Williams

      Howard, thank you for pointing out the link problem in the article.  That link is now fixed.  For those who would prefer it in the comments, here is the correct LINK to the Staff Report.

  4. Linda Deos

    I live in Jim Provenza’s district and have already written to him to express my dissent with this purchase. I understand that he is the swing vote on this matter. I will also be attending the Board of Supervisor’s meeting Tuesday morning to verbally express my consent.

    1. Matt Williams

      Linda Deos said . . . “I understand that he is the swing vote on this matter.”

      Linda, what are you hearing are the vote alignments? Which Supervisors are for? Which against? Which on the fence?

          1. David Greenwald

            I would assume that Chamberlain will be a yes, but I haven’t spoken to him. The thinking is that Oscar Villegas is a yes, but I haven’t talked to him. Jim Provenza seems to be leaning no, but said he wants to hear both sides.

  5. Greg Brucker

    The MRAP is a visual sign of the militarization of civilian forces. This program was ignorantly started by Clinton, and only slowed down a bit by Obama. Sadly and frustratingly, it wasn’t ended.

     

    Given the authoritarian, really, totalitarian threats to our democratic republic from a major domestic enemy of the judiciary, constitution, and bill of rights, this only more so signifies the current push by hair furor and the new authoritarian republican party toward making our great republic into a fascist police state run by white supremacists with neo-nazi tendencies.

     

    NO MORE MRAPs

    SEND THEM BACK

    RESIST

    1. Keith O

      Given the authoritarian, really, totalitarian threats to our democratic republic from a major domestic enemy of the judiciary, constitution, and bill of rights, this only more so signifies the current push by hair furor and the new authoritarian republican party toward making our great republic into a fascist police state run by white supremacists with neo-nazi tendencies.

      LOL

      Remember, it was the Divider-in-Chief Obama under whose regime that these MRAP’s were often rolled out long before Trump was ever in the picture.

  6. Mark Kropp

    Maybe neither here nor there; on a recent Woodland Police Department tour the MRAP was noted in need of a periodic “airing out.” One observation was that like any diesel farm engine, needs to be “turned-over” everyother day aka run the motor. Lastly one potentional domestic use is during flooding!

  7. Mark Kropp

    “Airing-out”- the MRAP as you can imagine is designed with its own ventilation system to prevent gas from overcoming its occupants; in storage the interior becomes musty and quite frankly – stinky.

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