Police officers in Davis, California, were ordered to return a $689,000 surplus military vehicle to city officials after residents became fearful of “militarization” and made claims that similar trucks were used during protests in Ferguson, Missouri.
Officers, who initially commanded the armored vehicle through the Defense Department’s 1033 program, now have 60 days to turn the vehicle over to authorities and are forced to explore other avenues for high-risk rescue missions.
The California Office of Emergency Services, which aims to recycle military equipment for law enforcement, allegedly administered the vehicle about two weeks ago. Military rifles, body armor, helmets, and binoculars have also been issued to the Davis Police Department through the program.
Police officials reportedly used almost identical vehicles to minimize the violence during protests in Ferguson after unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot by a police officer.
A crowd of Davis locals has since gathered to protest the vehicle as they panic over “police militarization.” The Los Angeles Times reported that one protester even donned a “Tank the Tank” shirt during the rally.
“We have a genuine and job-specific need for the types of equipment that most people wish that they wouldn’t have in their communities because of the nature of the job that we have,” Davis Police Chief Landy Black stated.
He went on to explain that while Davis is deemed a “safe community,” incidents in the past have required increased security measures. Armored vehicles were reportedly utilized during a protest and gunfight last year in Roseville, where armed robbers shot at police officers.
“I am opposed to the investments that are made and then the results of those investments flowed back into our community in ways that may not hurt our community in a physical sense by [sic] are destructive in terms of not increasing our security but increasing our anxiety,” a Davis city council man said on Tuesday.