Alex Greig — Daily Mail Dec 21, 2013
The Salinas Police Department took ownership of the hulking tank-like vehicle on December 17 and parked it in front of the town’s Rotunda for public viewing.
The $650,000 truck has caused quite a stir in the town, with many residents questioning why a military armored vehicle would be needed in civilian situations.
The truck provides protection from handgun and rifle fire as well as explosions. It will be used for the Salinas SWAT team and can transport eight to 10 officers at a time.
In a press release, Police chief Kelly McMillin said the department was in desperate need of a replacement for the 1986 Ford money carrier officers used as a rescue vehicle.
‘For some time the converted armored car has been in very poor condition; the roof leaks water and the vehicle has been in constant need of mechanical repair. Due to its low ballistic rating the armored car never truly provided adequate protection,’ reads the release.
McMillin says the vehicle came to the department free of charge as part of the 1033 program which reallocates government equipment for use by law enforcement agencies.
It has never been deployed abroad.
A picture posted of the vehicle on the Salinas Police Department’s Facebook page garnered varied responses, from enthusiastic support to suspicion.
‘That armored vehicle is a disgrace to cops,’ wrote one commentator. ‘…What happened to courage, honor, integrity. That vehicle is made for war. Do not use my safety to justify that vehicle. To better protect me, it’s a joke. Come clean and tell the truth. The Salinas Police Department is just a bunch of cowards that want to use that vehicle as intimidation and to terrorize the citizens of this city.
Another said, ‘The Salinas Police Department shows courage, honor and integrity each day they go out on the streets to protect us. This vehicle will not intimidate any law abiding citizens. If it offends gang members…..GOOD!
McMillin says the vehicle, while imposing, will only be used to protect citizens and officers, but some members of the community feel that such a war-like vehicle is unnecessary.
‘To stop gang members? Hmmm gang members don’t riot in mass numbers. It’s right in front of our faces and we don’t see it. Why would the ARMY!!! give something like that for FREE!!! Let’s think for once people,’ said a Facebook commentator.
Another agreed: ‘And Obama said we don’t need military weapons in hands of citizens!’
Chief Kelly McMillin responded on the Salinas Police Department’s Facebook page.
‘I have been reading with great interest the comments of those who feel strongly about this vehicle and the implications it has as regards the policing of Salinas,’ he wrote.
‘Every man and woman in the Salinas Police Department took an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States. We take that oath seriously. I thank God we live in a country where we can have this conversation, challenge each other, and challenge the government on how it does its job. Even though I may not agree with all of you, thanks for having a civil discussion.’
According to KSBW, the truck’s height has already helped the force arrest a dangerous suspect, who was spotted by police running from several blocks away.