Town OKs police receiving military equipment
Allows PVPD to utilize excess DoD equipment
When the US Department of Defense has excess equipment, it’s given to law enforcement agencies across the nation, said Prescott Valley Police Department Chief Bryan Jarrell, noting that the agreement under law is with the state of Arizona which gives out the equipment to individual law enforcement agencies in the state.
Jarrell’s comments came during the Town Council’s discussion on whether or not to approve a memorandum of understanding with the state of Arizona which would allow PVPD to receive excess Department of Defense equipment, including protective gear and tactical vehicles. The equipment given is the type of equipment that PVPD can’t afford to have, such as night vision, Jarrell said.
“Probably the most useful thing we’ve had in the past couple of years is the armored rescue vehicle that we have. That was used about two years ago in conjunction with an incident that they had up in Ash Fork,” he said. “At the time, the people that were in the compound that were firing weapons on law enforcement, they were using 50-caliber rifles and the low armor peacekeeper vehicles that we have aren’t rated to stand 50-caliber rounds, but the rescue vehicle that we have is.”
Jarrell said that the show of force the vehicle had was part of what brought the incident to a peaceful conclusion. The vehicle itself is worth about $780,000, which is not something PVPD has in its budget, he said. Prescott Valley Police Department has received firearms, ballistic armor and other equipment in the past through the program, according to the request for council action.
The program has come under scrutiny by the public over the past couple of years, but it’s not something PVPD abuses or uses to intimidate, Jarrell said, adding that the only cost to the town is a $250 registration fee.
Police departments around the nation have received some criticism for using former military vehicles, mostly to quell riots and demonstrations.
Councilmember Lora Lee Nye said she doesn’t understand citizens criticizing law enforcement for putting in place life-saving equipment.
“It’s beyond my understanding,” she said. “We want our officers to go home to their families at night and that’s exactly what this is about.”
Jarrell responded by stating law enforcement agencies tend to be their own worst enemies as there have been agencies around the country who have use the program and abused it to the point where they have so much, they no longer know what they have.
“Those are things that make all of us look bad,” he said. “I can assure you that’s not the case here in Prescott Valley.”
The council unanimously approved the memorandum of understanding.