Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Sheriff Ends Bid for Army Vehicles

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Sheriff Ends Bid for Army Vehicles

Article excerpt

The Bergen County Sheriff's Office has dropped plans to obtain two armored, mine-resistant vehicles from the military in part because "it was no longer worth the effort," a sheriff's spokesman said Monday.

The decision means Sheriff Michael Saudino is making permanent a delay announced in August.

The decision puts an end to a contentious debate that reverberated throughout this year's Bergen County executive and freeholder elections, one that had started well before a white police officer shot and killed an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, Mo., on Aug. 9.

The use of military-style vehicles, weapons and armor in Ferguson in response to protests led to state and federal reviews of programs that deploy surplus equipment from the Defense Department to domestic law enforcement.

The White House released one of those reviews on Monday, and President Obama asked his Cabinet for concrete recommendations to ensure police departments "aren't building a militarized culture."

Saudino's spokesman, Joseph Hornyak, said the White House review did not affect the decision to abandon plans to acquire the two MRAPs, or mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles. The department had planned to deploy one vehicle and use the other for parts.

Hornyak said Saudino decided at some point since August, after reviewing the department's needs, that seeking the vehicles was not worth the effort.

"That may change, but right now we have no plan to put ourselves back on the list," Hornyak said.

He also said the decision was based on "other things happening throughout the county," but he did not elaborate.

Bergen County Executive Kathleen Donovan was a fierce opponent of Saudino's planned acquisition. Employees in the Sheriff's Office actively worked to defeat Donovan, a Republican seeking a second term, in last month's election, and she ultimately lost to challenger James Tedesco. …

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