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UC Berkeley Cancels Order For Armored Police Vehicle Amid Uproar

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A Lenco BearCat LE model. (Lenco Industries, Inc.)

A Lenco BearCat LE model. (Lenco Industries, Inc.)

BERKELEY (CBS 5) – The University of California, Berkeley police department has made an about-face on the purchase of an armored vehicle for the campus police department.

UC Berkeley Police collaborated with the Berkeley and Albany police departments to obtain a $169,000 Department of Homeland Security grant for the armored emergency vehicle.

The university said the vehicle, a Lenco BearCat armored car, would protect officers during situations involving gunfire or to rescue victims in situations such as the shooting at Oikos University in Oakland.

KCBS’ Anna Duckworth Reports:

News of the armored vehicle purchase prompted the widespread criticism in Berkeley, and came on the heels of UC Berkeley’s police response to the Occupy protest.

The Berkeley City Council blasted the university’s decision, saying the purchase was inconsistent with the community’s values and that council members were kept in the dark about a large acquisition that resembles military equipment. Dozens of Berkeley residents spoke out against the purchase during last month’s city council meeting.

UC Berkeley officials were now in the process of canceling the order for the vehicle, according to a statement issued Thursday by Chancellor Robert Birgeneau and the mayors of Berkeley and Albany.

The statement said campus administrators concluded a military-style vehicle was “not the best choice for a university setting.”

Officials in Berkeley and Albany agreed with the decision to rescind the purchase, according to the Thursday’s statement.

The Albany Police Department had already backed out of the deal, according to the Daily Californian.

The customizable BearCat is used by dozens of military and law enforcement agencies both in the U.S. and overseas.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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