UC Berkeley to use federal funds to purchase $200,000 ‘armed personnel carrier’
by Josiah Ryan, Campus Forum – June 29, 2012
The University of California – Berkeley Police Department (UCPD) has acquired a $200,000 grant from the Department of Homeland Security to purchase an “Armored Response Counter Attack Truck,” a police department spokesman told Campus Reform on Friday.
The eight-ton vehicle, commonly referred to as a “Bearcat,” is used by U.S. troops on the battlefield and is often equipped with a rotating roof hatch, powered turrets, gun ports, a battering ram, and a weapon system used to remotely engage a target with lethal force.
Lt. Eric Tejada, a spokesman for UCPD, said the university plans to use the vehicle along with neighboring counties in dangerous situations that could involve heavy weapons.
Tejada said that although he does know of any incident in the university’s 144-year history in which such a vehicle would have saved a life, the police department would have liked to deploy it in an incident last year when they mistakenly believed a man had an AK-47 assault rifle.
University of Virginia Professor Dewey Cornell, an expert in violence prevention and school safety, told Campus Reform on Friday that with approximately 4800 four-year colleges in the U.S., and an average of 10 homicides per year on college campuses, the average college can expect a homicide about once every 480 years.
“With all we hear we hear about the federal deficit it’s a shame there is money available for things like this but not for prevention,” said Cornell. “If a university has to resort to a Bearcat that means there is a failure somewhere else.”
A June 19 log of a Berkeley City Council meeting, however, suggests that that UCPD also intends to use the vehicle for “large incidents” including university sporting events and an annual street festival called the Solana Stroll.
The tactical working group of which the UCPD is a member said “the armored vehicle is needed for ‘large incidents’ such as CAL games and the Solano Stroll,” notes the meeting meetings minutes.
The grant was obtained under the DHS’s Urban Areas Security Initiative. The vehicle will be shared with two neighboring jurisdictions and likely will not be stored on UC-Berkeley’s campus, said Tejada.