Some are disappointed and others are relieved that Berkeley, Calif., will not equip its police force with a large military-style, armor-plated vehicle. The city announced in late July the cancellation of a joint request with the city of Albany for a $170,000 Armored Emergency Rescue Vehicle from a federally affiliated nonprofit group, reported SFGate.com.
"When we found out about this grant application we sort of went ballistic," Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates reportedly said. "I mean, why do we need this here in Berkeley? And why would we want to militarize our police force? It was a bad idea from the beginning."
Several other cities have been more accommodating when offered old equipment. Concord, Calif., fixed up an old armored vehicle last used in Kuwait and renamed it 'The Mamba.' Government Technology reported earlier this year on Fort Lauderdale, Fla.'s 'Peacemaker' vehicle, a retrofitted Brink's armored truck now being used to conduct video surveillance in high-crime areas.
The police chiefs of Berkeley; Albany, Calif.; and the University of California at Berkeley jointly applied for the grant earlier this year. But when city council members and university officials learned of the application, protestation began at the famously left-leaning university. A UC-Berkeley spokesperson called such a vehicle not appropriate in a university setting.
It’s “unfortunate” the armored car will not be coming to his department, UC-Berkeley police Lt. Eric Tejadasaid reportedly said, but he added that the police should follow the wishes of the community.