Local police agencies seek to share armored vehicle

North County Tactical Working Group/Courtesy

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UCPD, Berkeley Police Department and Albany Police Department recently decided to partner to seek funding for an armored vehicle despite opposition from community members who fear it will be used to suppress protests.

The proposal for the armored vehicle, known as the East Bay Tactical Intervention Vehicle, has not yet been presented to Berkeley City Council, though the Berkeley Police Department’s mutual aid agreements — through which the department can request assistance from local agencies in times of need — will be presented to the council at a special meeting Tuesday night.

City council members, ACLU of Northern California representatives and the city’s Peace and Justice Commission are expected to speak at the meeting.

The proposal concerning the armored vehicle will not be specifically addressed until the council’s meeting on June 26, according to Councilmember Kriss Worthington.

The three agencies would share the vehicle in times of threats to the safety of the public. The armored vehicle will be used for “active shooters, barricaded subjects and rescuing individuals,” according to Berkeley Police Department spokesperson Sgt. Mary Kusmiss.

The agencies plan to receive funding from the Urban Areas Security Initiative, a Department of Homeland Security nonprofit organization that is intended to financially support agencies that are in high risk of a terrorist attack with “security enhancements.”

However, some residents believe the armored car is a symbol of fear and has been obtained in an effort to suppress protests, such as when an armored vehicle was previously used to break up the May 1 Occupy Oakland protest.

“We do not want our police officers sent to other jurisdictions to suppress protected First Amendment activity or non-violent civil disobedience,” the Social Justice Committee of the Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists stated in a letter to members of the Berkeley Police Review Commission and Subcommittee on Mutual Aid Pacts. “(R)ecent events, including various police agencies’ responses to Occupy demonstrations, show that there is a need for additional review of our mutual aid policy.”

Other opposing organizations, such as the Coalition for a Safe Berkeley, accuse the Urban Areas Security Initiative of “militarizing” local police agencies, and have urged the council to “sever its ties” with the initiative, according to a letter the organization sent to the Police Review Commission.

UCPD spokesperson Lt. Eric Tejada said the agencies’ intentions stand opposite from the criticisms they are facing.

“(The vehicle is) just a resource the agencies are trying to acquire in terms of protection for the community,” Tejada said.

UCPD will maintain custody of the rescue vehicle, according to Tejada.

The coalition and other organizations have been concerned about the mutual aid agreements because other agencies unfamiliar with Berkeley’s police protocol may end up handling its citizens.

The Gray Panthers and the SHARE Foundation also urge modification of the mutual aid agreements so that other law enforcement agencies working with Berkeley Police Department will comply with the city’s police procedures.

Worthington said that one of the problems with the armored vehicle is that its proposal has been hidden from the public.

“I first heard of the armored car from the general public,” he said. “The proposal wasn’t presented to the council in any grant request form.”

A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Berkeley Police Department spokesperson Sgt. Mary Kusmiss said the armored vehicle will be used at events for Cal Athletics and the Solano Stroll. In fact, this statement came from Gene Bernardi, a member of SuperBOLD.

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  • Guest

    There is a related article at People’s blog for the Constitution, check it out for more information

  • seenajee

    Great Article!

  • I_h8_disqus

    Has the Daily Cal not been reporting all the incidents of active shooters, barricaded subjects, and people needing rescuing, because I have not heard about that happening on campus, in Berkeley, or in Albany.  I just don’t see the benefit of the vehicle over the costs, and I imagine that thing costs at least $100K.

  • works for a living

    It’s easier to read Fascism when it’s in your face.
    Thanks to Tom Bates, Beth Pollard, and the whole UCPD force
    for reminding us that they are the 1%.
    Nice way to spend our dollars. (or was it a grant?)

  • Calparent

    OMG, can we waste anymore money on noneducational toys?

  • Current student

    I’d love to turn that thing loose on the occutards.


    • Atlas Sobbed

      I cannot fathom how you could even begin to think that was a post-worthy comment.

      • Guest

         What’s unworthy about it?  The fleabaggers have been vandalizing property, trashing public parks, inciting riots, and protecting rapists for months now.  Police should use any means necessary to reclaim our public spaces from these vermin.

        • Dr. Beezle

          Based on the fact that you make your case with gross generalizations and name calling, you can be no other than Tony M + Libsrclowns, a human centipede that sh*ts ignorant, hate-filled speech into the comment section of the Daily Cal because it has nothing else to do.  (It has failed to find friends and a sense of place in Berkeley, and now sees its goal as waging war on commie-hippies, i.e., for them, every other UC Berkeley student.)  Here again, the students (beaten as they were) exercising rights held sacred even by libertarians, are “fleabaggers” who trash parks, incite riots, and protect rapists.  Your statement boldly proclaims your absolute lack of knowledge about what you are discussing; it proclaims not only ignorance, but hate, fear, and general stupidity — an inability to see beyond emotionally charged cliches.  Sad, because in your mind the complexity of political reality has become a war between black and white — because that’s the furthest you are capable of understanding things.  We saw the abusive militarization of police/gov. agencies during Ruby Ridge and Waco, too.  This is not about ooh, let’s crush flea-ridden hippies (stupid, bigoted, and very incorrect), but it’s about protecting our fundamental liberties, such as free speech.  You do not sound like an honorable patriot but a pure fascist.  You don’t know what you’re talking about.  You don’t even know enough to argue rightly for what you would like to say that you believe.

          • Adsahjh

            I like how liberals can’t debate without using every possible insult in the book.

    • Guest

       Too bad the constitution of your country doesn’t let you…

  • josefinahazel

    Companies offer discounts to policyholders who have not had any accidents or moving violations for a number of years. look line for “Clearance Auto” on the web

  • Guest

    I want one. 

  • Adsahjh

    Aww, hippies don’t like that they won’t be allowed to run amok causing havoc and destruction. My heart bleeds for them.

    • Guest

       You’d think that it would be bleeding MORE for taxpayers forced to shell out several hundred grand for this useless toy that there has been no occasion to use in the past (and likely won’t ever be used in the future), huh?

      Oh, well, it’s just taxpayer money that would’ve just been wasted on education. After all, it’s not like the 1%’rs are paying for it.