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Sacramento City Council votes to approve $440K for purchase of armored vehicle

Sacramento Police Department officials spoke to the council to request nearly $440,000 to purchase an armored vehicle called 'The Rook.'

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Sacramento City Councilmembers voted 7-2 Tuesday to approve spending about $440,000 to secure the purchase and use of an armored critical incident vehicle known as The Rook.

Mayor Darrell Steinberg tacked on two additional requirements for the Sacramento Police Department to gain his approval:

  1. Police officials must work with Sacramento Community Police Review Commission members to update policies and define limitations on usage of The Rook.
  2. Police officials must report the vehicle's use to the City Council, and report its use to the community members of wherever area it is used.

Police Chief Kathy Lester called for city officials to approve the nearly half-million dollar purchase of what she described as an "armored multi-terrain loader for the department," citing safety concerns for officers. 

Councilmember Katie Valenzuela and Mayor Pro Tem Mai Vang were the two dissenting votes against the purchase.

"This is not a warzone. This is our community," Valenzuela said Tuesday.

According to Lester, the department's has utilized armored vehicles in law enforcement situations 13 times since 2019. The department currently has two such vehicles dubbed "Bearcats."

Three of those 13 times, the Bearcat did not arrive to the scene in time to be used.

Dozens of people attended the council meeting in person and via Zoom. The majority of public commenters were strongly against approval of the purchase, but some speakers were in favor of it.

Those speaking to the council who were against the spending listed names of people killed by police over the years, called military grade weapons and vehicles "traumatizing to already traumatized communities," and demanded this funding go elsewhere in the city to benefit residents.

Those in support of the spending used examples from 2019, 2020 and 2021 of Sacramento police using the Sacramento County Sheriff's Office's Rook in barricaded suspect situations.

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