San Francisco police Chief Greg Suhr requested an armored tactical vehicle in June 2013 for use in San Francisco.
Suhr’s request for a mine-resistant ambush protected (MRAP) vehicle from the Law Enforcement Support Office, which distributes excess U.S. Department of Defense property to local law enforcement agencies across the country, is a result of the National Defense Authorization Act of 1997.
The Law Enforcement Support Office (LESO), which is part of the U.S. Department of Defense’s Defense Logistics Agency, has received a wave of recent criticism after local law enforcement agencies have been seen responding to civilian protests armed with military equipment.
Since LESO began in 1997, it has transferred more than $5.4 billion worth of property to law enforcement agencies, with almost $1 billion transferred in 2014 alone, according to LESO.
Items transferred to local law enforcement range from armored vehicles and weapons, to clothing and computers.
Suhr’s request states that because San Francisco is a high-intensity drug trafficking area, the SFPD’s 32-member SWAT team and 8-member explosive ordnance device team could utilize the armored vehicle.
Possible high-risk operations in which the armored vehicle would be used include “warrant service, barricaded subject extraction, and explosive ordnance device mitigation,” Suhr wrote in the request.
The requested MRAP “can be utilized as a regional asset, as no other MRAP’s currently exist in the region,” Suhr wrote in 2013.
San Francisco police spokeswoman Officer Grace Gatpandan said she didn’t know whether the request for the armored vehicle has been approved yet, but said the SFPD’s fiscal department and deputy chief of the Special Operations Bureau, who would know, were not immediately available to comment on the matter.
In recent years, residents who say they don’t want military vehicles in their communities have protested police department requests for armored vehicles in Berkeley, Albany, Santa Cruz and other Bay Area cities.
Hannah Albarazi, Bay City News