Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Vallejo PD acquires heavy assault vehicle from USA Dept. of Defense

Vallejo Police Department [link]

"Vallejo Police Department acquires armored military truck for search, rescue operations, Department hopes to use 14-ton Caiman sparingly" 
2014-08-20 by Tony Burchyns for "Vallejo Times-Herald" daily newspaper [http://www.time]:
Lt. John Whitney talks about the Vallejo Police Department's new armored rescue vehicle, acquired through a Department of Defense program that supplies local law enforcement agencies with military gear. The vehicle will be on public display at the department's open house on Sept. 6. (Photo: CHRIS RILEY—VALLEJO TIMES-HERALD)

As the nation debates the phenomenon of increasingly militarized local police forces, the Vallejo Police Department has quietly acquired a menacing, mine-resistant armored vehicle from the Department of Defense.
Weighing a hefty 14 tons, the six-wheel-drive Caiman troop transport vehicle came to the city in May through a federal program that supplies local law enforcement agencies with surplus military gear. The department plans to unveil it to the public at its open house next month.
"This is one of those things where we hope we never have to use it," Lt. John Whitney said. "But it's good to have around. And if we need to use it once a year, then it's worth it just for that."
At a time when many are criticizing the use of military tactics by police in Ferguson, Mo., to control rioters after an officer shot dead an unarmed black teenager, Whitney stressed the new vehicle would be used appropriately, and sparingly. He added the department has no plans to use it for crowd control purposes.
"It's not an armored assault vehicle," said Whitney, adding that it won't be used to patrol the streets. "It's flat out for going into areas where we need to protect people and rescue people ... If the public sees this, more than likely they're going to know from somewhere in the news why it was out. We're just not going to go roll this thing around."
He added, "If you see a major SWAT incident, you may see it there. But more than likely you won't. This is for maybe a once or twice a year deployment, and we hope it doesn't even have to be that."
Depending on their configuration, the vehicles can cost the military between $416,000 and $775,000. But the cost to the city was just $14,000 for shipping, paint and details, according to the police department.
"We were offered it through the (Department of Defense) program," Whitney said. "It didn't cost the city a penny. The only thing we had to pay for was to get it painted."
It's not the first time the Vallejo has gotten extra military gear on the cheap. The city has previously received a Hummer, rifles and even refrigerators from the Department of Defense.
The vehicle will be used mainly for search and rescue operations, Whitney said. It will also provide an alternative to the department's aging Peacekeeper armored vehicle, which has regularly broken down after being deployed.
Due to its design, the rescue vehicle can be driven in flooded areas and over any terrain in Vallejo. It can also be used in tactical emergencies, such as a school shooting.
"If there's an active shooter, we can pull this right into a campus and load people in," Whitney said. "It can also go up steep hills and it's got a lot of power so it won't get bogged down."
"Like I said," he added, "It's better to have it ... just in case."
The rescue vehicle will be on display at the Vallejo Police Department Open House from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sept. 6, 111 Amador St.

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