Lodi police have taken possession of a new armored vehicle, a civilian-made model that promises to safely deliver officers into active-shooter crime scenes.
Unlike communities such as the City of Davis which for a short time acquired a military vehicle, Lodi opted for an armored vehicle made by the Armored Car Group. Two Lodi police officers are driving the armored vehicle from the maker in Detroit, a less expensive option than shipping.
The armored vehicle cost about $250,000. The Lodi Police Foundation, composed of citizens in the community who support the department, raised about $200,000. A grant from the federal Department of Homeland Security picked up the rest.
“Our community understands that to be an effective police department in this day and age that officers need certain tools – and this is one of them,” said Lt. Sierra Brucia.
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The new armored vehicle replaces an old bank armored vehicle that the department acquired second hand about 20 years ago. Repair costs were mounting for the old vehicle, which does not have the defense against firepower possessed by the new model.
The new armored vehicle is built on a Ford chassis. It will be used by SWAT officers and patrol officers during dangerous situations.
The department was aware of surplus mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicle, known as MRAPs, that can be acquired through a federal government program. However, the hulking vehicles did not seem to fill the bill for Lodi.
“They just didn’t serve the purpose that we were looking for,” said Brucia. “The MRAPs are very large. We have small, residential streets. Would we be able to deploy it effectively? Do we need a vehicle rated for land mines?”
Brucia said the department was also aware that the MRAPs have been criticized.
Earlier this month, the Davis City Council directed police to research civilian vehicles after returning a MRAP in October following a perceived “militarization” of the department by some in the public.
Still, police departments acquire armored vehicles of one kind or another to bring officers into situations where suspects have high-powered weapons – and to extricate innocent citizens from dangerous situations. Patrol vehicles lack armor protection.
“We had one of our officers shot in the leg through a patrol vehicle door,” said Brucia.