At the Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday, February 21st, I voted against acquiring a third Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicle in Yolo County based on an unclear need for it, absence of fiscal analysis, and my concern that such equipment can be viewed as polarizing. The Board didn’t have the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) or specific regulations on use of the vehicle before us so it was not clear the conditions that may be imposed by the Department of Defense by accepting this vehicle. We also were not presented with a budget of expected costs associated with operating and maintaining the vehicle. In addition, I’m concerned there is a nationwide move toward the militarization of local law enforcement through deployment of surplus military equipment. I’m interested in continuing to build positive relationships between local law enforcement and community members. The presence of a heavily armored MRAP vehicle is seen by many as a deterrent to those activities.
At the meeting Yolo County Sheriff Ed Prieto requested authorization from the Board of Supervisors to acquire a MRAP vehicle from the Department of Defense to help in their efforts to protect the community and law enforcement. In his presentation to the Board, Sheriff Prieto stated that there will be no cost to obtain the vehicle and his preliminary estimates for ongoing maintenance is less than $1,000 annually. The Sheriff advised that he is a strong supporter of civil rights and the intended use of the vehicle is not in protest situations or raids by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency or other federal operations, rather to better serve the community and the safety of law enforcement in assisting the public with flood rescues, active shooter situations, and bomb threats.
More than 25 residents from throughout Yolo County voiced their opposition at the Board meeting to obtaining a MRAP vehicle. Many more residents called and emailed Board members in advance of the meeting. Community members expressed concern that adding an additional MRAP vehicle in the County (Woodland and West Sacramento Police Departments each have a MRAP) would be perceived as a threat and damage trust with law enforcement. The costs for operation appear well in excess of $1,000 annually and the need for a third MRAP in Yolo County was questioned. They also offered praise of the Sheriff’s Department and clarified their issue is not with the Sheriff, but with the structural militarization of local law enforcement.
The Board of Supervisors ultimately voted to consider this item again on April 25th after the Sheriff provides the MOA, expected costs, and a written protocol of expected use of the MRAP vehicle. Yolo County staff will also seek additional opportunities for community engagement so more people can participate prior to reconsideration of this item.