The community was not best pleased. We have not forgotten the pepper-spray incident with the campus police. And the timing of their announcement was astonishingly insensitive, coming as it did shortly after the Ferguson police and their cast of extras had staged their full-costume re-enactment of the Battle for Baghdad.
The city council, who had not been informed in advance of this little bonanza from the MIC Christmas gift list, hastily put a discussion on Tuesday night's agenda. The result? Yay! Come see how one city backed off from militarization!
The police tried really hard to make a case for their shiny, possibly used, toy. "Hostage situations!" they said. "We need them for armed confrontations!" Unfortunately, the only armed confrontations they could cite as examples were in Stockton, an hour or so to the south, and Roseville, an hour or so to the east. Well, there have been a couple of cases lately where the police in a neighboring town to our north shot someone with mental health issues. Maybe our police need protection from the Woodland cops?
The public comments, both in the local paper and at the meeting, were almost uniformly opposed to using the MRAP for community police work. As one protest shirt put it, "Tank the tank!"
The city council was concerned not just about the MRAP, but also that they had not been consulted. They had authorized the police to purchase some military surplus supplies a few years ago, but apparently they had in mind something like emergency supplies in case of an earthquake, or night-vision goggles to spot bike thieves around campus (our most common crime, I believe, right up there with graffiti and drunk college students.) The council was definitely not in the market for a tank for patrolling downtown, even if the dang thing was free, except for $6,000 shipping.
In the end, the council voted 3-1-1 (one abstention) to find a way to get rid of the MRAP, and to require better supervision of military supply acquisition. Our cops will continue to patrol in ordinary cars, or on bicycles. (More in our local paper here.)
If ISIS shows up in the farmers' market or the bookstore or the Little League baseball field, I guess we will just have to borrow a tank from Stockton.