The controversial BearCat Police Vehicle was parked at the Culver City Senior Center on Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020, and Mayor Meghan Sahli-Wells was siting inside listening to Captain Eric Lane of the Hawthorne Police Department describe how they use one.
“When there is an injury, we can place them in here. You wouldn’t send an ambulance into a hot zone – you can send a BearCat.” Captain Lane spoke at length on the different situations that Hawthorne had used the vehicle, and the the mayor listened intently.
Once the meeting commenced inside, Sahli-Wells and Vice Mayor Goran Eriksson presided over a small gathering of concerned resident who wanted information. Lieutenant Troy Dunlap offered a brief power point presentation on the vehicle, concluding with a long list of other cities that had purchased one for their departments.
BearCat is actually an acronym; it stands for Ballistic Engineered Armored Response Counter Attack Truck, and while the council had approved the $200,000 purchase of a used vehicle, further research that showed it would take so much more to rehabilitate a second hand one, the best investment would be to purchase one new.
Many in the community are vocally opposed to purchasing one at all. Adam Long was the first to address the meeting, saying “This is not something we need. With so many other, much more urgent problems that the city must address, this is not how we should be spending our money.”
Deborah Weinruch was on the other side of the fence. “It is saves even one life, it’s money well spent. How do we count the cost of a life?”
The ability to use a vehicle from a neighboring department was emphasized by Les Greenberg. “We don’t need to own one when we have access to one near by.”
Prisca Gloor decried the militarization of the CCPD. “This is part of that trend that the police feel they need more and more hardware, and companies like Lenco are there to profit from it. This does not promote trust. This is like the drones and the facial recognition. We do not want or need this kind of policing.”
Mayor Sahli-Wells emphasized that the money had been budgeted, but the decision to purchase or not to purchase would be made at a city council meeting in March.
Another community meeting to view the vehicle and have questions answered will be held Feb. 19, 2020 at City Hall.
To fill out a community survey on the vehicle, please go to www.culvercity.org/how-do-i/get-involved/bearcat-emergency-rescue-vehicle
Photo Caption – Mayor Meghan Sahli-Wells inside the BearCat with Hawthorne Police Captain Eric Lane