September 9, 2014

San Leandro Police May Soon Get Armored Personnel Carrier

Although it has never been discussed at a San Leandro City Council meeting, San Leandro is poised to receive $200,000 towards the purchase of a Bearcat armored personnel carrier as part of a grant distributed by the Alameda County Sheriff. This is the same type of armored personnel carrier deployed in response to the protests in Ferguson, Missouri.

Lenco Bearcat in Ferguson, Missouri
Bearcat armored personnel carrier in action in Ferguson

The cities of San Jose and Davis recently announced that they would be sending back their mine-resistant armored vehicles. In Washington, D.C., Congress has been reconsidering whether loading up local law enforcement with used military hardware is a good idea.

According to the agenda for the Tuesday September 9, 2014, meeting of the Alameda County Board of Supervisors, the San Leandro Police Department will receive $200,000 towards the purchase of a Lenco Bearcat Medevac Tactical Armored Vehicle. The funds come from a $1.6 million “Homeland Security Grant for disaster assistance and overall management of regional emergency response activities.”

The armored vehicle has “steel armor plate certified to defeat multi-hit attacks from 7.62 AP / .50 Cal BMG, while ceilings and floors provide enhanced blast and fragmentation protection.” according to the company web site. It also features “a roof hatch with a gunner’s stand” and “gun ports.” There is also a military version of the vehicle, but the agenda item doesn't indicate which version San Leandro is getting.

The version of Bearcat sought by the San Leandro Police Department

While San Leandro gets $200,000 for an armored personnel carrier, other allocations from the grant were for emergency and disaster response equipment:

  • $300,000 for an interoperability communication system
  • $61,703 for protective chemical suits
  • $76,246 for a handheld chemical identification unit
  • $200,000 to support Community Emergency Response Teams
  • $83,930 for an automated remote air monitoring system
  • $115,786 to support a newly-developed Medical Reserve Corp

Mayor Stephen Cassidy, in response to questions about the vehicle, noted that it "is not a military personal carrier distributed to police departments through the U.S. Department of Defense 1033 program." In his response, Cassidy referred to the armored vehicle as a "rescue truck" and said, "Should the department receive the grant, it remains within the authority of the City Council to decide whether or not the police department should accept the grant." The City Council was informed on July 9, 2014, that the police department had applied for the grant, but apparently were not aware of the grant award on today's agenda for the Alameda County Board of Supervisors.

Cassidy also confirmed that purchase of an armored personnel carrier has never appeared on a San Leandro City Council agenda.

The Oakland Police Department has a Bearcat armored personnel carrier that was used in response to the Occupy Oakland protests. The Hayward Police Department and Alameda County Sheriff have Bearcats as well. The Alameda Police Department and East Bay Parks Regional Park Police have similar vehicles made by The Armored Group.

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