Amid a national furor over police militarization, the San Jose (Calif.) Police Department has decided to get rid of a 15-ton armored vehicle it received earlier this year from a federal military surplus program, reports the San Jose Mercury News.
San Jose's move comes right on the heels of similar plans by the nearby city of Davis to jettison its mine-resistant, ambush-protected troop transport, or MRAP. In San Jose, the MRAP, designed to withstand improvised explosive devices used against U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, has been in an undisclosed storage garage in the city.
"It was acquired to provide protection to our bomb unit members," San Jose police spokeswoman Sgt. Heather Randol said. "We are the regional bomb facility. We are a resource in the county and statewide."
It was being outfitted for street use when police brass -- already facing criticism for their recent purchase of a drone -- decided it wasn't worth the potential damage to the department's image and community relationships.
"Helicopters were primarily a military vehicle. So are AR's (rifles), and so are the tactical vests and helmets we wear," said Sgt. Jim Unland, president of the San Jose Police Officers' Association. "Those come from military usage, have been incorporated in law enforcement, and save lives. If there are issues of trust with the community, explain the use, and create a firm policy of when we can use it and when we can't."