On Wednesday, the Antioch Police Department SWAT team was called out to a barricaded subject which led to a 6-hour standoff which highlighted a textbook need for use of an MRAP for officer safety purposes.
The incident showcases the ignorance of members of the Antioch City Council who continue to lie and mislead the public all over the appearances of how Antioch Police utilize tools versus reality in real life dangerous situations.
In this case, the suspect allegedly pistol-whipped his girlfriend and beat her, led police on a pursuit and entered his apartment while being possibly armed with a firearm and threatening to shoot police and that he wasn’t going back to jail. From a tactical position, he had the high ground and could shoot down. Sure, a sniper could have taken him out multiple times, but Antioch Police used caution and hoped to negotiate a peaceful outcome.
Imagine officers driving up in their SUV’s, or approaching the apartment on ground and the suspect opened fire from a tactical advantage. Bullets would go through the windshield possibly striking officers. Officers approaching the apartment by ground would have nothing more than a shield protecting them.
What many don’t realize about yesterday, the suspect threatened officers many times and told them to get back and was not going peacefully.
During the incident, the man was out on the balcony several times, appeared agitated and as police fired gas into the apartment, like a savage he picked it up and threw it back at police. By hour five, SWAT arrived utilizing the MRAP for safety as officers entered the apartment and took him into custody in hour six without any other injuries.
Wednesday was just one of many examples where the MRAP has proven useful.
Antioch police have utilized the vehicle several times in recent months including a suspect who fired a firearm at family members inside a home on Sunview Way (see incident), while on March 26 police were called to shots fired inside a home on Manzanita Way.
In the past month, the Brentwood Police Departmet has called for an MRAP vehicle for incidents they have worked at least three times–bet you didn’t hear about any of those. The Pittsburg Police Department has been utilizing theirs on certain incidents without issue.
The point is, the MRAP is saving police lives in many jurisdictions and preventing injuries while providing a level of comfort in high stress situations with very dangerous individuals.
I bring up yesterdays incident in Antioch because it highlights a need for the Antioch City Council to reverse its March vote on MRAP’s and other military equipment. At some point, Antioch Police will need another MRAP, this policy would have to be removed.
Back in March, the Antioch City Council voted 4-1 to ban the police department from accepting and/or acquiring surplus military equipment. The police can keep what they have now, but unless the policy changes, they cannot accept anything new in the future.
During that meeting, Antioch Police Chief Tammany Brooks said the vehicle was only used on high risk search warrants and arrest warrants for people who typically pose a risk due to weapon violations and the knowledge they have as being currently armed and dangerous for crimes such as murder and assault with a deadly weapon. He said the vehicle is used approximately 10-15 times per year.
“The rescue vehicle is not an offensive vehicle. I’ve heard a couple people refer to it as a tank. Its actually on a chassis that’s built also for dump trucks and cement mixes, fire trucks, the body is military grade,” explained Brooks. “Its not a tank. Its not meant for offensive purposes. It provides a high level of ballistic resistance when officers are in situations in which they could face fire from people that we are trying to arrest in those high-risk situations.”
Antioch Councilmember Mike Barbanica explained a joint effort between Antioch and Oakland Police (including other agencies) took 400 guns off the street. Barbanica argued while the rescue vehicle is talked about, there are other things that the public may not be aware of such as a robot that can deliver a phone if you are negotiating with someone who has a hostage or in mental crisis rather than putting an officers life or a persons life
During the time of the March vote, Barbanica stated he believed, “this policy places officers potentially in the future at risk and its wrong.”
He is right. But this debate goes back even further to 2014.
If you recall in 2014, former Antioch Police Chief Allan Cantando defended the use of the MRAP at a Pizza with the Police event while noting it would have cost the city $650k if they bought it outright.
“Our MRAP is our military vehicle that is getting a lot of comments on the blogs. People ask why we would spend a lot of money on this vehicle when we need a lot of police, it was free,” stated Cantando. “It cost us $3,000 to drive it down from Washington because it gets about 9-miles-per-gallon.”
“We are not driving over mines, we are not. But being on the SWAT team when someone is shooting a gun at you, it doesn’t matter if it’s a mine, a gun, an automatic gun or a sniper rifle, you do not want to get hit,” stated Cantando. “If you are in vehicle that will stop those things, that is a great deal of safety and I want to knock on wood that I have been here 28-years and we have not lost an officer and hope it never happens.”
I get that the big bad MRAP may look scary to some, because it is intimidating, but we are talking about providing officers who protect and serve with a safety tool against people who are either a threat to themselves, to officers, or the general public–counselors need not apply in these situations. Safety is priority one for everyone!
While I certainly do not want a full blown military on our city streets anywhere in America, there is certainly nothing wrong with non-offensive weapons such as an MRAP that improves officer safety. And last time I checked, technology and ghost guns are making it much more difficult for law enforcement to keep communities safe when you combine that with catch and release, zero bail and Sacramento laws making it lighter on criminals.
Taking away tools is a terrible start to a council who claims to say public safety is priority number one. It is time for the Antioch City Council to reconsider the error of their ways.