CALAVERAS COUNTY —
In the midst of a controversial military recall, the Calaveras County Sheriff’s Department will hold onto their military-grade armored truck.
President Barack Obama ordered local law enforcement agencies to return some surplus equipment, among concerns that they’re missed and unnecessary.
Sheriff’s deputies explained why their armored vehicle is essential.
Meet the mamba that is as big as a pickup truck but outfitted like no other vehicle on the road.
“Has ballistic proof, so it allows officers to safely get into an area if we ever have to extract somebody,” said Sgt. Anthony Eberhardt with the Calaveras County Sheriff’s Department.
The military-grade vehicle was decommissioned by the federal government until the sheriff’s department picked it up years ago. The only cost to them was the paint job, all thanks to the Department of Defense’s 1033 program.
Any government agency can benefit from the 1033 program, including police and fire departments, and in neighboring Sonora, the police chief said they’ve received filing cabinets through the program.
Eberhardt said the program has helped their agency and taxpayers through financially challenging times. Without the program, an armored vehicle like the Stockton Police Department’s BearCat, would have cost the Calaveras County hundreds of thousands of dollars.
“Would have to ask the board or go to the taxpayer and ask them to fund for items,” Eberhardt said.
But it’s not without controversy. Concerned groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union, claimed some military surplus equipment is unnecessary and misused, claiming it’s the militarization of law enforcement.
In response, the president signed an executive order in 2015, recalling some items like tracked armored vehicles and grenade launchers.
Not on the list — the mamba.
“It helps not only law enforcement to get in, but it can also help civilians getting out of a dangerous situation,” Eberhardt said.
Eberhardt said the truck is only used in highly dangerous situations.
“Critical incident, high-risk incident, typically incidents that involve threat of weapons,” which he said keeps deputies and the public safe.
The Woodland Police Department’s MRAP vehicle will also remain in Woodland. As for the recalled items, law enforcement agencies will have to return items such as armored track vehicles, bayonets and grenade launchers by April 1.