LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Los Angeles Unified School District police officials are considering whether they need the armored vehicle and grenade launchers they received from the U.S. military.
The military hardware at the disposal of LAUSD police officers includes a 20-foot-long, 14-ton armored transport vehicles, much like the ones used to move Marines in Iraq combat zones. The armored vehicle is worth $733,000, and the school district’s police force got it from the government for free.
How would LAUSD use such a vehicle?
“For us? That vehicle would be used for extraordinary circumstances,” LAUSD police Chief Steve Zipperman said.
The armored vehicle, which is stored at a secret location, has been in the department’s possession since July.
“It’s something that we believe is a life-saving vehicle,” Zipperman said. “And certainly we realize we need to take a look, is this the best alternative right now for us until we find something else that is more conducive to a police-type of rescue.”
The district is also in possession of grenade launchers, which it received for free from the military after 9/11. Neither the armored vehicle nor the grenade launchers have ever been used. But the district doesn’t plan on keeping them.
“It’s a piece of equipment that’s not essential for our mission, so we will be disposing of those,” Zipperman said.
The armored vehicles and heavy artillery distributed to local agencies became a national issue in the wake of the riots in Ferguson, Mo.
“I can’t allow whatever political ramifications or analysis in Ferguson suggest how I want to make a decision on how to best make sure we respond at the LAUSD,” Zipperman said.
The chief says the armored vehicle will stay but will only be deployed on his direct orders with the approval of the school superintendent.
“To suggest that it’s a threatening type of equipment or equipment for a show of force, that is not the case,” Zipperman said.