June 29, 2018

Bloomington Bars Police From Using New Armored Truck With Crowds

The Bloomington Police Department purchased Lenco BearCat armored vehicle like the one pictured here in  Lee County, Florida. - Niteshift36/CC BY-SA 3.0

The Bloomington Police Department purchased Lenco BearCat armored vehicle like the one pictured here in Lee County, Florida.

Niteshift36/CC BY-SA 3.0

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) — The Bloomington City Council has barred police from using their new $225,000 armored truck for crowd control at public demonstrations.

The council voted Wednesday to solidify policies developed and reviewed by Bloomington Police Chief Mike Diekhoff and the city's Board of Public Safety. Bloomington Municipal Code now also prohibits the armored truck from carrying affixed firearms, water cannons and devices that can fire a projectile, the Herald-Times reported .

The council said to expect future legislation addressing issues that arose when the city announced in February its decision to purchase the $225,000 Lenco BearCat for the police department's critical incident response team to use in high-risk situations.

"There are reasons why we have these rules, and as tedious or as laborious as it seems, they provide an opportunity for everyone to speak, to be listened to," Councilwoman Dorothy Granger said.

The purchase has drawn criticism from opponents who worry the vehicle would militarize the town's law enforcement. Residents at Wednesday's meeting wanted more definitions added to ordinance language, asking for explanations as to what is "high-risk" and how police's high-risk assessment is applied to some situations.

Vauhxx Booker, a leader of Black Lives Matter Bloomington, said the city has to bridge "chasms of mistrust" with its residents. Booker called for more code-required reporting on the armored vehicle's use.

Diekhoff said the department will issue monthly reports that describe a summary of the event, what led to the event, who is involved and a complete overview of what prompted police to deploy the vehicle.

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