CPD asks city council for funds to replace armored personnel carrier

CPD currently has a 30-year-old ACP vehicle, which needs various repairs.
Columbia resident Jeremy Root speaks to council members at Monday night's City Council meeting. City Council voted to table an ordinance that would appropriate funds to purchase an Armored Personnel Carrier for the Columbia Police Department.

City Council voted to table an ordinance that would appropriate funds to purchase an Armored Personnel Carrier for the Columbia Police Department.

Various council members asked CPD officers to gather more information on the frequency and nature of ACP usage. Council will vote on the ordinance at the next meeting April 1.

"I think I have a duty to the public to have enough information to convince the public as well," First Ward Councilman Fred Schmidt said.

CPD currently has a 30-year-old ACP vehicle, which has needed various repairs. Over the past 12 years, there have been 27 documented mechanical or electrical failures resulting in more than $35,000 in repair costs.

Of more than 500 agencies nationwide, nine police agencies in Missouri have an APC vehicle.

The ordinance would appropriate $36,505 from asset forfeiture funds, $127,587 from fund balance, and transfer $63,495 from police autos to police trucks for the purchase of the vehicle. In total, the vehicle would cost more than $200,000.

APC vehicles have psychological effects during high-risk situations that result in more success and safety for officers, CPD Chief Ken Burton said.

"It has the ability to make people just surrender rather than escalate a situation," Burton said. "People tend to give up when they see this vehicle because it shows them that the police are serious."

While many people compare the APC to a tank, the vehicle is more of a defensive strategy rather than an offensive strategy. There are no weapons systems on the vehicle, Sgt. Lance Bolinger said.

"It is a defensive vehicle," Bolinger said. "I'd compare it to a Brinks security vehicle. It's meant purely for protection. We use it quite often for barricaded subjects who we believe are armed and provide a risk to officers … this vehicle provides us with ballistic protection."

CPD also loans the vehicle to surrounding communities who need to use it, Butron said.

The vehicle would provide CPD officers with the best level of protection, City Manager Mike Matthes said.

"I support the request wholeheartedly as city manager," Mattes said. "We send these folks into harm's way, and this is something we can do to protect them and maximize our success with these dangerous jobs."

During the public comment session of the meeting, Columbia resident Shari Korthuis expressed concerns over the necessity of an ACP vehicle.

"I'd like to see statistics of 2012 on how many officers and citizens were killed by gunfire," Korthuis said. "All of these models look like tanks and are very intimidating. A tank is awfully militaristic."

Not only is the vehicle costly, but the city could use the money in other areas, Korthuis said.

"There's so many projects in the community that we can't fund and there's all kinds of things we can do with that money instead of further militarizing our society," Korthuis said.

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