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Sacramento Police Review commissioner against more police armored vehicles

Police reform activists and community leaders across Sacramento spoke out against the police department's request for a $440,000 armored vehicle called 'The Rook'.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The Sacramento Community Police Review Commission, and their vice chair Keyan Bliss, have for years made recommendations to the police department regarding use-of-force and military equipment use policies.

Though the commission has made attempts since 2019 to work with police and city officials in updating the department’s policy, their efforts have gone mostly ignored.

As city council was considering approval of the police department's purchase of a third armored vehicle Tuesday evening, Bliss told ABC10 police and city officials should focus on other community needs.

"I can think of multiple other places the [money] can go that address much more urgent needs the community is facing rather than just giving the department another new fancy piece of equipment that doesn't have a real necessity," he said, speaking on behalf of himself and not the entire commission.

Bliss also said the nearly $440,000 that would be spent on a new armored vehicle can instead be invested into the city's Office of Violence Prevention.

"I have yet to see any explanation of how this equipment is necessary when the Sacramento Police Department already has access to [an armored vehicle]. Based on their recent reports, their last annual use reports does like they don't actually use more than a handful of times over here," he said.

Police officials revealed Tuesday their current armored vehicles have been used at least 13 times since 2019.

According to Police Chief Kathy Lester, The Rook is unique to the department's current Bearcat armored vehicles because it has a deployment platform that can lift first responders two stories high.

"Our commission as a whole are still actually waiting for the Sacramento Police Department to provide an update on where the military equipment use policy [progress] is at following its passage back on September 13, 2022," said Bliss. "We will still continue to ask for that, and hopefully we'll be getting some more answers and updates from the department during one of our next public meetings."

The next Sacramento Community Police Review Commission meeting is set for Feb. 13. Click here to see the result of Tuesday's City Council vote on this topic.

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