A conceptual photograph of the vehicle with paint and decals (emergency lights also pending).  This is not the final rendition of the vehicle's appearance.
  • A conceptual photograph of the vehicle with paint and decals (emergency lights also pending). This is not the final rendition of the vehicle's appearance.
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Tons of surplus weaponry have rained down on California from the Pentagon's excess property giveaway, otherwise known as the 1033 Program, with a sizable allotment landing in San Diego County.

San Diego's police department got 76 M-16s, the Army's assault rifle, valued at $37,924, and also was given an armored truck worth $65,070, according to a spreadsheet obtained under the California public records act from the California Office of Emergency Services and posted online by MuckRock/News.

County sheriff Bill Gore received ten M-14 selective-fire automatic rifles, now used by the U.S. military primarily for competition and sniping. The allotment was valued at $1380, according to the spreadsheet.

The biggest local beneficiary of the government's largesse has been the San Diego Unified School District, which picked up a brand new Mine Resistant Ambush Protection Vehicle, worth $733,000, the disclosure says.

In a controversial move, the military loaded up on the so-called MRAPs during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in a procurement that ultimately cost almost $50 billion, according to an October 2012 report by Time:

"Michael J. Sullivan, a military-procurement expert at the Government Accountability Office, told the House Armed Services Committee in 2009 that the trucks were coming off the assembly line so fast that testing and fielding had a 'high degree of overlap' resulting in 'orders for thousands of vehicles [being] placed before operational testing.'"

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria has captured some of the vehicles, weighing between 14 to 18 tons, during the current fighting in Iraq, but many others have been handed out to local enforcement agencies in the United States under the excess-property program.

"It certainly does seem to be a case of overkill,” Kara Dansky of the American Civil Liberties Union, told National Public Radio last week. "We think that local governments can and should demand public hearings when local police want to apply to the Pentagon to receive military equipment."

A school official here says the district is thankful for the government's handout.

"Our version is an Army version," says San Diego Unified School District police captain Joe Florentino. "The only cost to the district was about $5000 to ship it from a military storage depot in Texas. It's a new vehicle, not a hand-me-down….

“We recognize the public concern over perceived ‘militarization of law enforcement,’ but nothing could be further from the truth for School Police,” Florentino added in an email.

“[Rescue Task Force] tactics were born from the painful lessons of the 1999 Columbine tragedy, when officers waited outside for tactical teams while children and teachers were being killed inside of the school,” he continued.

“Our Rescue Vehicle provides the highest-level of protection for law enforcement to make entry under heavy fire while treating/evacuating students. We can actually fit an entire classroom of elementary students inside our Rescue Vehicle.”

The vehicle, which has been painted a dark gray by students at Morse High School, will eventually be outfitted with video cameras and $30,000 worth of medical supplies, the cost of which is to be donated.

"Now we can get in and rescue people if a shooting breaks out," Florentino says. "We can drive up to the building, cram 30 kids in, and get them to safety." The MRAP could also transport paramedics safely to the scene of school disasters to set up casualty and triage centers, he adds.

The school district will also make the vehicle available to other local law-enforcement agencies on a shared basis for use during civil disturbances and other violent incidents, as well as natural disasters.

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monaghan Sept. 9, 2014 @ 1:11 p.m.

Matt Potter never leaves us in peace.

This story is so terrible it makes San Diego Mayors Faulconer, Filner and Sanders look like choir boys. Ditto for drunk State Senator Ben Hueso recently i-exposed in his frailty by his Assembly colleague Lorena Gonzalez. Weird Nathan Fletcher's past political campaign ads using testimonials from a murdered teenager's parents come close to this -- but no, this story is worse.

A spare $733,000 Mine Resistant Ambush Protection Vehicle from the U.S. Army has been provided for a $5000 transport-fee to San Diego City Schools? No better use for that money?

Just because an armored truck is offered, does that mean you take it? What does procuring this war machine say to our community of parents and children? What are we teaching here? What are we learning? Will this vehicle be brought to high school campuses for display on career days when the military and the cops come out to impress and recruit the kids? Will it be painted yellow? Are school police running the schools? What is the matter with our Board of Education and the goody-two-shoes elementary school principal-turned-Superintendent?

It's been thirteen years since 9/11 and it's been trending for a while, but now it's clear: everyone's running scared and the inmates are running the asylum.


Visduh Sept. 9, 2014 @ 5:12 p.m.

There you go again, monaghan. This story isn't "terrible" at all. Nobody has decried the militarization of police more than I, but this isn't that. (Doubt me? Check my comments in the past couple days.) Such a vehicle in its current form is defensive, not offensive. And the comments by Florentino about Columbine High are on the money.

It couldn't happen here? Maybe before your time, maybe even before you were born, it DID happen here. In 1978 one of SDUSD's elementary schools did come under sniper fire. Two men, the school principal and head custodian, raced out of the school into the line of fire to get kids and public out of danger. Both were hit and went down.

When the SDPD "Kolender Kops" showed up that day, plenty of police ineptitude was evident. One thing that they didn't do was attempt to rescue the two downed men because they were still in the sniper's view, and so they lay where they fell for hours. Both, true heroes, died that day. Children were also hit, but they survived.

It is quite possible that a vehicle like this MRAP, if brought out quickly, could have been used to rescue the men, and one or both might have lived. It would also have had value in evacuating the kids from the school, something that took many hours, and left the kids emotionally traumatized. Of course, in those days, snipers didn't attack little kids at school, and nobody was ready for it to happen. But note that this wasn't a terror attack. The sniper was a stupid little, disaffected and antisocial 16-year old girl armed with a 22 rifle. (Her name is Brenda Spencer and she's pulling a 40-to-life sentence at Chowchilla.)

It doesn't take an Islamist terrorist to make a terror attack. What is the district teaching the kids? The lesson might be that they care enough to be ready to ride to their rescue.


nativesd Sept. 9, 2014 @ 2:35 p.m.

Wow! Bersin could have used this when he needed tens of police officers to prowl the Education Center corridor to intimidate teachers and parents crowding the auditorium to protest his "my way or the highway" top-down policies.


CaptainObvious Sept. 9, 2014 @ 6:17 p.m.

Ok, the thing will have to be kept ready to roll and staffed during school hours. Schools will have to have trees and fences removed , and possibly outdoor walkway roofs raised to allow the beast to actually back up to every single classroom door. How much will this thing really cost? Good thing there is a drought, it may sink into a watered lawn. Anyone else remember SDPD's armored assault vehicle getting stuck and spending its life rusting at the range?


monaghan Sept. 9, 2014 @ 9:02 p.m.

Visduh, our time together on the same wavelength is over. You are caught up in some rescue fantasy, just like Captain Joe Florentino, now that school cops have acquired this ridiculous military apparatus. You both engage in wishful thinking, but that armored truck meant to carry soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan will never serve a good purpose in San Diego public schools. More weaponry is not necessarily better defense when it comes to education.

Logistics alone, noted by Captain Obvious, make the armored behemoth a useless dinosaur. And yes, I do remember long-ago shooter Brenda Spencer who "hated Mondays" and killed a school principal. The new armored vehicle would not have changed a thing about that tragedy. You have forgotten that only last month a fully-militarized Ferguson Mo. police force turned a single incident into a total disaster.

The issue is the message. Do responsible educators succumb to the national post-9/11 terror narrative by laying in supplies of excess military equipment at schools? How fragile is the peace that's envisioned when this is what they do? It falsely frightens and worries children and parents about daily school life.

Thoughtful educators establish reasonable security at school sites with a helpful school police presence. And then they pay close attention, listen and respond to kids in their classes and around campus, with counselors and nurses and principals who know everyone in the school community personally. They communicate the timeless values of what school at its best is supposed to be.

If somebody offered your school a free B-1 bomber, would you take it? I doubt that you would. Somebody ought to send the school district's Mine Resistant Ambush Protection Vehicle back to Texas where it belongs.


AlexClarke Sept. 10, 2014 @ 6:30 a.m.

If we expect the police (whatever the brand) to rescue us we need to equip them. If not properly equipped then we can't ask them to step up to the plate. Most incidents start and end before any specialized units arrive. The number of people rescued in any situation are few. These low cost military vehicles come at a high price. ECPD was donated a used armored car. They painted it and had it ready to go. It was never used as the battery was always dead. These vehicles need to be maintained and that takes time, money and manpower.


Visduh Sept. 10, 2014 @ 7:57 a.m.

Absolutely right. The value of such an overpriced vehicle is nil if nobody is assigned to rapidly react with it, and if there are no procedures established for how to deploy it. That all requires some education on how to react to attacks, training a number of cops as responders, and having the vehicle centrally located and ready to roll on a few minutes notice. The "slobberin' school district" has a poor record of doing anything well, and one must wonder about their in-house police force.


monaghan Sept. 10, 2014 @ 12:39 p.m.

You could not be more wrong. San Diego Unified School Police have a superb record of helping school communities -- kids, parents, teachers, principals, nurses, office staff. It's the cops' presence as authorities, role models, advisors and observers that keeps the schools safe. The reason there IS an in-house police force is that they personally know students and bring eyes, ears, hearts and minds to their jobs -- uniquely different from detached off-campus city police.

I hope San Diego Unified will send back this inappropriate white elephant armored vehicle and save on maintenance costs. It would be a great statement about how public education marches to a different drummer on the anniversary of 9/11.


jnojr Sept. 10, 2014 @ 2:48 p.m.

I should be able to buy a surplus M-16 from CMP for $499...


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