The purpose of this letter is to address the pending decision which will be made by our Culver City Council members regarding the purchase of an Emergency Rescue Vehicle. An Emergency Rescue Vehicle (ERV) is an armored vehicle (commonly referred to as a “Bearcat”) which can hold up to a dozen people, while protecting those inside from different types of firearms including high-powered rifles.
This type of vehicle is currently utilized by police departments and sheriff’s departments all across the country, including our neighboring cities of Beverly Hills and Santa Monica. The cost of the ERV is approximately $400,000. Half of this will be funded by the city, with the other half being funded through the CCPD’s Asset Forfeiture account. As mandated by law, Asset Forfeiture funds must be used by our police department specifically for training and equipment.
Our police department has requested the purchase of an Emergency Rescue Vehicle to help our officers respond to critical incidents and protect human life. Should the purchase of the vehicle be approved by city council members, the police department will have a solid policy in place regarding the use and deployment of the ERV in specific incidents/situations which are identified as follows:
— Active shooter/mass casualty incident
— Rescue of injured victims; rescue of injured officers during active critical incidents
— High-risk warrants with identified risks (i.e. weapons, explosives, etc)
— Barricaded armed suspects
— Hostage rescues
— Structure or other types of fires that present an active threat to safety personnel (including Culver City Fire Department personnel)
An Emergency Rescue Vehicle would allow police officers and fire personnel to drive into close quarters to bring violent encounters to a successful resolution. This specialized tool would allow officers or fire personnel to rescue shot or injured members of the public. The vehicle will be used to prevent further harm to members of the public in anticipated violent encounters, such as high-risk search warrants where suspects are believed to be armed with firearms and/or explosives.
There have been a number of instances in other cities where the mere presence of an Emergency Rescue Vehicle has caused armed offenders to surrender without incident. We encourage you to read the article, ‘Why cops need armored vehicles: 13 times BearCats saved lives’ by Lt. Dan Marcou.
Our police union is aware of dissenters within our city who are opposed to the purchase of an Emergency Rescue Vehicle because they believe this vehicle would help “militarize” the police department. The acquisition of an Emergency Rescue Vehicle is to safeguard the community and prevent unnecessary loss of life in critical incidents.
Police technology has advanced in the areas of facial recognition, biometrics, robots, shot spotters, in-car computers, thermal imaging, etc. Unfortunately, criminal tactics and behavior are also evolving with the advances in technology. Police departments must evolve as well to effectively deal with today’s criminal issues. It is legal, ethical, fitting, proper, and responsible for police departments to use modern technology, such as an ERV, as long as the technology and equipment is used as intended and not abused.
We recognize that this is an expensive purchase for the city and police department. There may be a concern in the community that the ERV will not be constantly used, making the purchase of an ERV unnecessary and inappropriate allocation of public funds. The same argument could be made about our officer’s handguns and rifles. Most police officers will work an entire career and never have to use their firearm. A police officer’s firearm, like an ERV, is an invaluable law enforcement tool when needed.
We as an organization do not agree with the idea that obtaining additional specialized equipment is a form of “militarization.” We will make certain that policies and procedures are in place to ensure proper usage and deployment. By design, most law enforcement agencies have a variety of specialty tools for unique situations at their disposal. The concept that a police department cannot have specialized equipment while simultaneously being an engaged community-oriented police department is erroneous. Despite what some may suggest, the two concepts are not mutually exclusive. We believe that the Culver City Police Department has a proud history of both.
Our organization prides itself on responding to emergency calls in less than four minutes. Those who oppose the purchase of the ERV have been quoted as suggesting we could request the presence of another ERV from another police agency to respond to a critical incident in Culver City. That argument is self-defeating in that it agrees with the premise that an ERV may be appropriately used in Culver City, but not purchased or owned by Culver City itself. By the time an ERV would arrive from an outside agency, too much time would have elapsed, and too much damage would have been inflicted. Borrowing an ERV is plainly an ineffective alternative to a purchase.
The fact remains that we are not exempt from the potential of a mass casualty or critical incident occurring in our city. We cannot be dependent, in any way, upon an outside police agency for assistance when an immediate response from the Culver City Police Department is required. We need to be self-sufficient in order to promptly, effectively, and properly safeguard the lives and safety of our citizens in such situations.
We hope and trust that our elected officials will not stake the safety of those who live, work, play, shop, attend school, or frequent Culver City on appearances or perceptions about a specialized vehicle. We assure the city and all of those who enjoy the amenities within our community that the Culver City Police Department would effectively use the Emergency Rescue Vehicle to enhance public safety and our ability to safely respond to critical incidents.
The Culver City Police Officer’s Association