It was free, but the imposing-looking armored vehicle recently acquired by the Davis Police Department is being sent back.
The Davis City Council voted 3-2 Tuesday night to return the vehicle to the federal government.
The vote came after divided public comment on whether the Davis Police Department should keep the vehicle known as an MRAP, or mine-resistant, ambush-protected.
The Police Department received the free MRAP through a federal program administered in California by the Office of Emergency Services. Police officials said such a vehicle otherwise would cost the city nearly a half-million dollars.
They also noted that the armored vehicle is intended not for offensive use, but rather to protect occupants from gunfire and other hazards in a police emergency response.
During public comment, those in support of keeping the MRAP contended it would be needed in case of a major crime or terrorist incident in the city. Others said they were uncomfortable with what they considered a militarization of local law enforcement.
Ultimately, Mayor Dan Wolk, Mayor Pro Tem Robb Davis and Councilman Lucas Frerichs voted to return the vehicle. Council members Rochelle Swanson and Brett Lee voted against returning it.
The council also voted unanimously in favor of a policy that would give city officials notice and oversight of military equipment offered to Davis police in the future.
Police agencies nationwide have long been receiving heavyweight hardware under a years-old federal program that allows the Defense Department to dole out excess military equipment to law enforcement agencies for use in combating drug trafficking or other crimes.
More than 8,000 law enforcement agencies nationwide have acquired equipment ranging from aircraft to office supplies to weapons through what the Defense Logistics Agency calls its “1033 Program.” Law enforcement officials say the program helps their cash-strapped agencies get expensive and valuable assets to bolster anti-crime efforts.
Call The Bee’s Mark Glover, (916)321-1184.