The San Leandro police department could soon have some heavy hardware on the streets – an armored vehicle.
A grant from the Sheriff’s department will give the San Leandro police $200,000 to purchase an armored vehicle. The funds were unanimously approved by the Alameda County Board of Supervisors at their meeting on Tuesday.
But Mayor Stephen Cassidy says that he wants the City Council to decide whether the police can buy the vehicle, so the final decision is yet to come.
The vehicle is a Lenco BearCat MedEvac armored personnel carrier, which is bullet and explosive resistant, according to the manufacturer.
Lenco says the BearCat can be used in SWAT and “military counter attack and rescue” situations and it features a rotating gun turret.
Cassidy said that he wants the matter to be discussed at an upcoming City Council meeting with the public able to comment and the police department there to explain why they think the vehicle is necessary.
“The council isn’t there to micro-manage every decision of a department, but this is a controversial matter,” said Cassidy.
The approval of the money for the armored vehicle comes the same week the U.S. Senate is holding hearings about the wisdom of the militarization of local police departments.
Following the death of Michael Brown at the hands of a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, violent protests broke out in that city.
Ferguson police responded in full body armor riding in the same brand of armored vehicle that the San Leandro police will be getting, which some say escalated the situation.
Homeland Security Money
The $200,000 for the SLPD vehicle is part of larger grant of $1.6 million that the Sheriff’s department received from the Department of Homeland Security.
In a written statement to the Board of Supervisors, Sheriff Greg Ahern wrote that the funding will “be utilized to building on the progress made toward enhancing the capabilities of law enforcement, emergency medical and management services, public works and public health and their abilities to respond to acts of terrorism.”
Police Chief Sandra Spagnoli did not immediately return calls for comment about the department’s new acquisition.