UC Berkeley, city police decide not to seek armored vehicle

Scott Lowe/Courtesy

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The Berkeley, Albany and UC Berkeley police departments announced in a statement Thursday morning that they will no longer seek to procure an armored vehicle they had previously planned to acquire through a federal grant.

News of the departments’ plans to use a federal grant to purchase a Lenco BearCat vehicle, which police said would be used to protect officers and civilians in rescue situations involving hostages or active shooters, raised concerns among local residents and the campus community over whether the vehicle would also be used as an intimidation tactic to suppress protests.

“Law enforcement’s interest in obtaining a vehicle that would protect officers during situations involving oncoming gunfire (or to rescue victims during such situations) — such as occurred at Oikos University in Oakland a few months ago — is understandable,” the statement reads.

Although the three departments planned to share the vehicle, UCPD had taken the lead in the effort to procure the federal grant to afford the vehicle and would have maintained custody of the vehicle when it was not in use.

At the June 26 Berkeley City Council meeting, several council members and dozens of community members said they did not wish to see such a vehicle in Berkeley. The council voted to request more information about the vehicle from the city manager.

On Tuesday, Albany City Councilmember Robert Lieber said that Albany police had decided to back out of the agreement with Berkeley police and UCPD because they deemed the vehicle “inappropriate for the uses for their police department in a civilian setting.”

Thursday’s statement — which came from UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau, Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates and Albany Mayor Farid Javendel — said that upon further review, campus administrators had decided such a vehicle would not be “the best choice for a university-setting.” Campus officials are currently in the process of canceling the order for the vehicle, according to the statement.

“I am delighted to see that all three jurisdictions agree that we do not need or want an armored vehicle,” said Bates in a statement Thursday.”We are concerned about the safety of our citizens and our police officers, but this approach is not in alignment with our values and we don’t believe it is needed.”

Adelyn Baxter is the news editor.

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  • Current student

    Seems pretty self-righteously hypocritical of Berkeley residents. Throw a hissy fit when BPD plans to purchase one of these, but happily borrow the Oakland PD’s armored vehicle when there is an actual need for it.

    • Tired of Surrounding Dumbness

      And they have “happily” borrowed the “Oakland PD’s armored vehicle” … when??

      The answer is, of course, never. Not that such would be a bad thing, of course, but your comment speaks to the stupidity common of your ilk.

  • Dr. Beezle

    Again, admins seem oblivious to the fact that police-student relations at UC Berkeley are dreadful. THe campus remains a powder keg. Lots of undiscriminating ill will from UPCPD. Bitterness, resentment on both sides. Students feel like de facto enemies, and mistrust the officers’ unrestrained use of force (coupled with repeatedly evidenced lack of knowledge and respect of law). Who is the thick skull who thought this one up? Purge him/her, along with Celaya and the brutalizing officers who suppressed constitutionally protected speech by battering peaceful, defenseless UC Berkeley students and faculty on November 9, 2011.

    • Current student

      Police-student relations are pretty good, if you’re not a fleabagger or an occutard. I speak from experience.

  • ArwenUndomniel

    Maybe Birgeneau got another phone call from the state legislature going “Are you nuts????”

  • ArwenUndomniel

    This is the wisest and most well-thought out decision the University and the City have made in a long time. Wonder who put pressure on Birgeneau???

  • berkeleyprotest

    Why are police officers such pansies that they want a Panzer?

    • I_h8_disqus

      Everyone is a pansy in the face of a gun, but the UC police don’t ever seem to be in a situation where they need to incur the expense for an armored vehicle. They showed they could bust heads without any vehicle in the past.