Letter: Urging Board of Supervisors to Reject Proposal for the Armored Personnel Carrier

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Sheriff Ed Prieto makes his case to the Board

by Rev. Schuyler Rhodes

I am a resident of Woodland, and I would like to begin this letter with a note of clarity. First, I have the highest respect for the men and women who serve in law enforcement across the country. I have family in law enforcement and I have an idea of the courage, commitment and sacrifice this takes.    Second, I want it known that I believe that we need law enforcement.   I have lived and served as a Pastor in urban and rural settings around our nation and I have witnessed and benefited from the presence of a well-trained civilian police force, whose mission is to serve and protect the people.   To these men and women I offer a profound note of thanks and gratitude.

The situation we face today, however, isn’t about a civilian police force (or Sheriff’s Department) whose mission is to protect and serve.    It’s about the increasing militarization of law enforcement across our nation.  It’s about giving military style training and equipment to people who are not the military.   A few weeks ago I awoke to a SWAT Team with more than twenty men in full battle dress with automatic weapons descending upon my neighbor’s house.   These “soldiers” with the words “police” on their desert camo uniforms wore black masks to hide their faces, and they were accompanied by an armored personnel carrier complete with a heavy machine gun on the turret.   This, in a country that has the lowest crime rate in fifty years.   One has to wonder why.

This is not a police presence.  This is a military assault unit.  There is a huge difference between the two, and we do not want or need military assault units in our community.   The addition of a third armored personnel carrier into Yolo County’s  Sheriff’s Department is unnecessary and moves much needed policing in a very wrong direction.    If you arm and train our police as though they were a military assault unit they will no longer serve and protect us.   If this seems far-fetched, check in with communities of color around our nation who have been assaulted by a militarized police.

So it is that I add my voice to a growing chorus of people who want a well-trained civilian law enforcement capacity, but are opposed to a military assault vehicle being part of the sheriff’s inventory of law enforcement tools.  I urge the Board of Supervisors to reject this proposal.  The County Board of Supervisors is scheduled to take this up at its April 25th meeting.   Show up.  Be heard.

The  Rev. Schuyler Rhodes – Superintendent, Bridges District – California Nevada Annual Conference – The United Methodist Church

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Disclaimer: the views expressed by guest writers are strictly those of the author and may not reflect the views of the Vanguard, its editor, or its editorial board.

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7 thoughts on “Letter: Urging Board of Supervisors to Reject Proposal for the Armored Personnel Carrier”

  1. Tia Will

    Thank you Rev. Schuyler Rhodes for such an eloquent, succinct expression of this issue. I fully agree on all counts and have written a message to this effect to our county supervisors. In addition to showing up in person, I recommend writing as well.

  2. Cherie Goodenough

    Thank you, Reverend Rhodes. I agree entirely. Anyone who would like more information on this subject will find several articles and op Ed’s here at the Vanguard. Information, including links to studies on police militarization and community policing, can also be found at http://www.protectingyolo.com/

  3. David Greenwald

    This is one of the better and more succinct pieces on this that I’ve seen.

    This line resonates for me: “The situation we face today, however, isn’t about a civilian police force (or Sheriff’s Department) whose mission is to protect and serve.    It’s about the increasing militarization of law enforcement across our nation.  It’s about giving military style training and equipment to people who are not the military. “

  4. Alan Miller

    “police” on their desert camo uniforms wore black masks to hide their faces

    I find this highly disturbing.  Is this a thing — police hiding their faces?  Is that even legal?

    I still say everyone is missing the mark.  This isn’t about whether we have 2 or 3 assault vehicles in Yolo County, it should be about whether we have ZERO or ANY.

  5. Linda Deos

    Thank you Rev. Schuyler for your letter on this issue. I agree with your comments completely. Anyone interested in doing more to stop the County  in purchasing the MRAP please check out the website ProtectingYolo.com. You’ll find ways to help us in this effort, including tabling at the Farmers Market, walking precincts, and sending postcards to your county supervisor.

  6. Ben Timmons

    I was a resident of Yolo County for over 10 years, and remained active in Davis and Woodland until relocating at the end of 2013.  I cannot believe we need a MRAP vehicle in Yolo.   UCD has a police force, and the rest of the county is fairly quiet compared to say, The Bronx, or parts of LA.  I’m with the Pastor on this one.   All this type of militarization does is to frighten the populace and leave more potential for over-reaction during a volatile situation.

    The other night I was driving in a small city in Northern Rhode Island, which is about Woodland sized.  It was 11 PM and I was on my way to a client site to work on their computers.  I was diverted up a side street by screaming officers in full battle gear.  I saw the MRAP “tank”, portable floodlights and a full perimeter around the house.  I did NOT see helicopters, State Police or Federal cars.   Next morning , I looked at the paper.  It was only a drug raid on a house.  Amazing no one got killed. This is a good illustration of over-reaction.

    Back to Yolo, I watched Law enforcement do what they needed to do for 12 years without one of these “tanks” or the units which go with it.  I felt safe, and the officers I spoke to at the coffee shop felt safe.  I ask the County and the Sheriff rethink the need for this unit.   Out here in New England, several towns have sent their “tanks” back.  Yolo may want to follow suit.

    Ben Timmons

     

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