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More cops or tank for Detroit?


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More cops or tank for Detroit?

$743,000 would be better spent by the ailing Police Department on hiring officers, union says.

From the Detroit News - September 28, 2005

The Detroit Police Department, on the heels of a decision to lay off 150 officers, wants to buy a $743,000 urban assault vehicle that can traverse rivers, is resistant to landmines and is equipped with periscopes.

The Detroit City Council is expected today to approve purchasing "The Commander" general-purpose vehicle for use in executing drug raids. It also could be used in case of a terrorist attack or a natural disaster.

The vehicle is to be bought with drug forfeiture money, cash that also can be used to hire narcotics-dedicated personnel and equipment, department spokesman James Tate said.

"It's a real step up from what we had," he said.

Still, some question whether the cash-strapped city can afford to spend so much on a vehicle while it's laying off police officers and slashing other programs. It costs around $70,000 a year to keep one officer on the street.

"This is all about priorities," said Detroit Police Officers Association President Marty Bandemer. He criticized the purchase, saying the department should be looking at ways to hire more cops rather than buy expensive equipment.

Detroit is the first major city to buy one of the vehicles, LeBlanc said, and added that the Michigan State Police are looking into buying one.

GPV recently loaned two of the vehicles to New Orleans at the request of local law enforcement to help out during the hurricane cleanup, LeBlanc said.


Read the rest of the article here

not that I don't think this could be put to good use, I just don't think it is the best use of the money. Ironic that the mayor and city council have butted heads on just about everything but this....

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I dont see a point in getting this when the city is in trouble financially right now. I would much rather officers put back on the payroll than having a tank cruising the streets. If Detroit is the first major city to purchase one of these things that shows me that drug raids dont need one. The fact that Detroit wants a tank doesnt really help its image out either. I dont like this purchase at all.

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You left these parts out

Drug forfeiture money is used primarily for equipment and vehicles. In certain circumstances it can be used for officers to help "fight the war on drugs,"

This is the third Commander that has been sold, LeBlanc said, with the others going to Oakland County..

First drug money CAN NOT be used for wages so it is a legitimate purchase. Secondly Oakland already has one likely purchased with drug money. Yet, I don't see any bemoaning how it isn't necessary for them or hurts their image

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I was on John R. crossing Warren on my bike when that thing came barreling down Warren from I-75. There was an escort SUV with its lights flashing and sirens blaring and that beast was going like 45 miles an hour!

I had to make a double-take and wondered what in god's name that thing was doing in the city.

I am interested in hearing of its uses onces it has been applied to scenarios.

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Detroit chief defends tank request

Police official says $743,000 assault vehicle needed to replace aging vehicle; council delays approval.

From the Detroit News - Thursday, September 29, 2005

Members of the Detroit City Council, alarmed that the police department wants to spend $743,000 on a tank instead of on police officers and training, indefinitely delayed approving the purchase of an urban assault vehicle Wednesday.

But Police Chief Ella Bully-Cummings defended the request, saying the vehicle is needed now because the old one repeatedly breaks down.


Councilwoman Sheila Cockrel said federal guidelines indicate the forfeiture money the department wants to use for "The Commander" can be applied to salaries of rookie cops and temporary employees and to provide law enforcement training.

"We shouldn't be thinking of buying something like this when we have to lay off officers," Cockrel said.

Training would also be a more prudent use of money, she said, and could avert behavior that causes the city to settle lawsuits over police misconduct.


The commander of the Special Response Team, Sgt. Russell Randall Hampton, said the current assault vehicle is used about 15 times a month to serve felony warrants, extricate wounded public safety personnel and for incidents involving barricaded gunmen.

Bully-Cummings bristled when quizzed as to why the department didn't look for cheaper alternatives like used vehicles and military cast-offs.

"Why do we always have to get second-hand for these officers?" the chief asked. "These officers deserve better."

Read the entire article here

Sounds like this is a no go right now.

I was sort of curious to how often this was used and it's a lot more then I would have thought. Also, it was interesting to see that the money can be used for rookie salaries, training, and temporary employess. I can see both sides now and am kind of torn, although, I don't exactly agree the chief's comments regarding cheaper alternatives since we all know how expensive it is to drive new vehicles and the city doesn't have the money. Also, this might be a little over kill. Does the city really need something that can drive over a land mine and survive? Is this a problem that I haven't heard about? And why doesn't Wayne county take a cue from Oakland county and buy something like this instead of it being a city owned item?

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