Macomb County just had to give an armored military surplus vehicle back to the federal government.
But it’s about to get another, very similar one — from the federal government. And it may get a second one, too.
President Obama ordered local law enforcement agencies to return armored personnel carriers and other surplus military equipment received through defense department programs.
It was an effort to quell growing fears about militarized policing nationwide. But it sparked a fierce backlash from many local officials, including Macomb County’s.
They say law enforcement has come to depend on the equipment to protect officers during SWAT team raids and other dangerous, high-profile situations.
The Macomb County Commission had already approved funds for Sheriff Anthony Wickersham to buy a new armored vehicle.
But now county officials, working with Congressman Sander Levin’s office, have apparently secured another surplus one through the Defense Logistics Agency.
“That will hopefully save Macomb County taxpayers around $300,000,” said County Commission Chairman Dave Flynn
Flynn says since the military isn’t using the vehicle now, “it would only make sense if they put them in the local communities. Not for use on a day-to-day basis, but only for these certain [high-risk] situations.”
President Obama’s executive order only recalled tank-like vehicles that run on tracks. These other armored vehicles are similar, but wheeled.
It’s not clear at this point how Wickersham will use the money the Commission approved to buy a new personnel carrier. But he told CBS Detroit Radio that he wants to “keep all options open,” and that a “second vehicle could come in handy for transportation purposes and deployment.”
Flynn said it’s possible the money could also be used to repair and maintain the other carrier.