Another Northern California City Dumps Armored Vehicle

The San Jose Police Department has announced its decision to dispose of a 15-ton mine-resistant ambush protected vehicle (MRAP) amid criticism from members of the community. The announcement came just days after the city council in Davis adopted a resolution calling for the disposal of its own MRAP within 60 days.

The recent decisions are part and parcel of a wider, national debate over the increasing militarization of local police forces around the country. However, San Jose Police Department Spokeswoman Sgt. Heather Randol said the department began discussing the move prior to the events in Ferguson, Missouri which first brought the issue to national attention.

Like Davis, the San Jose Police Department received the vehicle through the federal government’s 1033 Program, which allows for the transfer of surplus military equipment to local police forces. The program, which facilitated transfers to 56 California counties over the past 8 years, has come under criticism by both Democrats and Republicans in recent weeks.

San Jose Mayor Pro Tem Robb Davis said the disposal of the MRAP was necessary to maintain public trust, noting the powerful “symbolism” associated with the enormous military-grade vehicle. But many in the police department are unhappy with the decision.

"This was politically expedient. I don't know why you wouldn't want the best equipment for your officers," said San Jose Police Officer’s Association President, Sgt. Jim Unland. "You can't predict the hazards and dangers that will come in 10 or 20 years."

The MRAP is not the only piece of military equipment which San Jose police have received under the 1033 Program. Since 2006, Santa Clara law enforcement agencies, including the SJPD, have received a number of leftover military supplies, including rifles, camouflage screens, and a $44,722 utility truck.

Redwood City, Antioch, and San Francisco are also in possession of mine-resistant vehicles, but have decided to hang on to them for the time being.

Read more about the latest decision by the San Jose Police Department here.