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San Diego Unified: New MRAP Is Not A Tank

Does your school district have its mine-resistant ambush protected vehicle yet?

The vehicle is worth about $730,000, but because the Feds have a surplus they give them away. The recipient pays just for the shipping--in this case about $5,000.

"When we have an emergency at a school, we've got to get in and save kids," a captain in the 54-member San Diego Unified police department told inewsource, a media partner of KPBS.

Reader Comment: Not that I would ever agree that a School District needs this equipment, but when the Captian said "Our idea is: How can we get in and pull out a classroom at a time of kids if there's an active shooter? If there's a fire [or] if there's an earthquake, can we rip down a wall? Stuff like that," he lost all credibility.

1. You can't fit an entire clasroom full of kids into one of these, and they are all but worthless at protecting someone who is not inside the vehicle. Ignore the fact that this won't fit into a building.

2. I'm no engineer or firefighter, but I'm pretty sure the last thing you want to do after an earthquake is pull down a wall that didn't fall down during an earthquake.

Reader Comment:How much $ could SDUSD raise by selling this for scrap metal? Maybe they could use the $ to buy supplies that the district doesn't fund --like paper and pencils?

Watch this film: How did local police all over America militarized? Because a $750 million federal program wants to declare war at home.

by Matthew Bowler, Tarryn Mento

While some may call San Diego Unified's recently acquired military vehicle a tank, the school district says otherwise, and quickly called a news conference to say so.

KPBS media partner inewsource reported Tuesday the district received the mine-resistant ambush protected vehicle -- or MRAP, as the Marine Corps calls it -- through a U.S. Department of Defense program. It's known as the 1033 program, which lets the federal government provide surplus military equipment to law enforcement. All San Diego Unified had to pay was the just-less-than $5,000 shipping cost.

At a Wednesday news conference held in response to media coverage of the vehicle, San Diego Unified School District Police Chief Ruben Littlejohn said it doesn't mean the military is moving into San Diego's education system.

"It's not police militarizing schools," he said at the school's district headquarters in Normal Heights.

The MRAP doesn't have any weapons capabilities -- they were all removed before the district even saw the vehicle. The vehicle was not on display at the news conference, but the district provided images showing what it looked like when it was first received and how it will be transformed. The district is modifying and painting the vehicle at its Kearny Mesa transportation facility.

Littlejohn says it will be used as a rescue tool.

"There will be medical supplies in the vehicle. There will be teddy bears in the vehicle. There will be trauma kits in the vehicle in the event any student is injured, and our officers are trained to give first aid and CPR," he said.

Littlejohn added that the district is seeking donors to provide the supplies.

The district said the rescue vehicle is one of the ways it is responding to the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, and preparing itself for potential disasters in the future.

A San Diego Unified spokeswoman said upkeep for the vehicle is estimated at $500 a year.

— Matthew Bowler, Tarryn Mento





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