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Council OKs Purchase of Armored Vehicle

The total cost of the armored truck would be $161,001.

The same day four suspects opened fire during a jewelry store , Newark's city council unanimously voted to allow Newark police to sign an agreement to purchase an that could be used during high-risk incidents.

The council’s vote allows Newark police to sign a seven-year lease with an option to purchase a Lenco BearCat armored rescue vehicle and adopt Lenco Industries as its sole source vendor.

And while the decision was made unanimously among the five-member council, Newark residents spoke out against the purchase.

Newark resident Margaret Lewis said funds used to purchase the vehicle could be used for other services, such as re-opening the city’s community center, establishing more after-school programs and eliminating city furlough days. Newark’s city offices are closed every other Friday.

Lewis also said she opposed the purchase of the vehicle because neighboring agencies have similar resources.

Similar vehicles are currently used by numerous law enforcement agencies, including neighboring police departments in Fremont, Union City and Hayward.

But Newark police currently does not have vehicles that protect its officers from ballistics, such as gunshots, projectiles and explosions, according to city staff.

The Lenco BearCat would act as armored protection for the police department’s patrol and SWAT officers and innocent citizens in emergency situations, such as “barricaded (armed) subjects, school shootings, terrorist attacks, and other active shooter incidents,” according to city documents.

In those documents, Police Chief James Leal added it would take at least 30 minutes to have those resources made available from outside agencies and the delay could put the department in a major disadvantage when it comes to rescue.

Other Newark residents who spoke in support of obtaining the armored vehicle emphasized the significance of time when it comes to threatening scenarios and public safety.

Jim Lola said he’s been in situations where an armored rescue vehicle was beneficial to him and noted his understanding is armored rescue carriers primarily have two purposes: to transport law enforcement officers to hazardous situations and withdraw innocent civilians from dangerous areas.

“Time is always of the essence. I actually do support the use of armored rescue carriers,” Lola said.

Newark resident Tim Jones, who also works part time for the police department, also noted time is important when danger escalates and said Thursday’s armed robbery at is a prime example of where an armored rescue carrier could have been valuable – had the situation worsened.

Although no one was injured in that robbery, authorities said four men, all armed with semi-automatic handguns, entered inside of NewPark Mall, smashed display cases and opened fire. They fled through JC Penney’s and into two vehicles.

“That situation could’ve been escalated to a very bad situation, very quickly, had the …[suspects’ escape] plans gone sour,” Jones said. “You had a [nearby] full of small kids. We had lots of people at the mall shopping with their families and kids. We had four guys with four guns…That situation could’ve got really ugly really quick.”

He said if someone had been wounded Thursday or becomes wounded in a similar act of violence, time becomes crucial.

“We don’t have 30 to 40 minutes to wait for Fremont or Union City to bring their carrier over,” Jones said.

The cost to lease the vehicle is $161,000, according to city documents, and the would have the option to purchase the armored personnel carrier for $1 at the end of the lease’s term.

A new Lenco BearCat armored vehicle could cost approximately $340,000, city documents state.

According to the agenda, the cost would be $28,000 in the first year and $17,000 for six years after. The costs, according to staff, would be offset by transferring funds from the police department’s tow fund into the city’s general fund expenses related to traffic safety and overtime, according to the agenda.

The net expense for the city of Newark would be approximately $6,000 each year for seven years, which is included in the , according to city documents.

City documents show the vehicle to be purchased is refurbished and has less than 25,000 miles. Its life expectancy ranges from 25 to 30 years.

Do you agree with the council’s decision to allow the purchase of an armored rescue carrier? Why or why not? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.

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Mona Taplin July 28, 2012 at 03:59 PM
Well I certainly hope our police officers would run for cover rather than stand there and get shot so you could think of them as heros. Police are outgunned and out equipped many times and we complain about that. Now we try to provide them and the public with a vehicle that could very well save lives and we complain. YES I would like to see the end of friday closings for the City Hall, and y es I would like to see the Civic center opened again. But I much prefer to see a well equipped police depatment with everything it needs to protect our officers and the public in any given situation. It's been an inconvenience to some to have the Civic Center closed but we are getting by withour opening it. With the increasing violence, can we get by without a well trained and equipped police department? I think not. I was personally strongly affected by the lack of weed control the past couple of years, but if I had to make a choice I'd put up eith the weeds and vote for equipping our police and hope they never are in a situation where that armored vehicle is needed.
Olek Lejbzon July 30, 2012 at 03:14 AM
What a joke. Everyone knows Newark police would drive the other way if a "serious threat" appeared. In the armored vehicle, Conseco is right. The Mayor allows the police to sit around in the police stations, because they are too fat to walk a beat, and protect the public. The average weight of the police here has to be well over 220 lbs., including the police women. It is a disgrace how Newark police hide from the community. Look at "community policing" in Independence Park, in the Ironbound. Do the police walk? NEVER. They sit in their air conditioned cars, surfing the web. Day or night. People get robbed at night frequently, and the Newark Police are there, in the middle of the Park, in the closed cars, obliviously sleeping. The police could very easily shut down the worst crime in this town, they have the manpower, but they make too much money allowing it to thrive. Things have not gotten any better since Mayor Sharp James. We just have a slick new face in the Mayor's office. He probably realized he better not get in the way of the money here, just serve his time and move up. Or stick around for the money?
Olek Lejbzon July 30, 2012 at 03:23 AM
$161,000 to lease this Hummer on Steroids? Where they going to take it, to Giants Stadium to tailgate? What is wrong with a used armored car? Newark is broke and infested with criminal enterprises, and the Police Brass are fiddling in their new toy.
Jacob M. July 30, 2012 at 06:54 AM
Ironbound? This is California, not New Jersey you twit!
Nadja Adolf August 01, 2012 at 07:08 AM
Even with an armored vehicle, the paramedics and fire staff will not be allowed in until the area is secure. Ordering all new patrol cars with armored doors would provide more protection to more officers and serve many of the purposes planned for this armored truck. Crashing building walls and raiding compounds might be of use in Iraq or Afghanistan - but in the US this sort of activity is generally frowned upon because of the risks to innocent bystanders. In short, this vehicle would likely sit in a driveway or parking lot at the site of a hostage situation or SWAT operation.

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