Bloomington police unveil new armored vehicle

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BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - The public got a chance to see an armored vehicle purchased for Bloomington police up close for the first time Tuesday night.

The critical incident response team vehicle drew heated debate from both supporters and opponents, but the city decided to move forward with the purchase.

It costs around $225,000 and is funded through a public safety income tax.

"I'm sort of ashamed we couldn't get the kids better," resident Bob Carnes said as he checked out the vehicle.

"I feel a little bit more secure, I've been behind it since they first started talking about it," resident Aggae Ramey said.

Police call it a defensive tool. They say they've gone without an armored vehicle for several years and need it for better protection during high risk situations.

The vehicle's exterior is bulletproof.  A hatch on the top can be used as a cover or to rescue any hostages and allows them to communicate with a subject without having to step out of the vehicle.

"It's going to add a level of protection they haven't had for several years so when they show up on high risk calls," Bloomington Police Chief Mike Diekhoff said, citing an incident last year where someone shot at officers.

"This is a foreboding, intimidating vehicle. It's a vehicle you could take into a combat situation," Vauhxx Booker, a spokesperson for Bloomington Black Lives Matter said.

Opponents have argued it's too militarized and disproportionately affects those who are marginalized.

They've also questioned the transparency of the process to purchase the vehicle.

Last month, the city council passed an ordinance the police chief said prohibits them from using the vehicle in protests or adding any more armaments. The Board of Public Safety also passed a resolution which will require police to submit a monthly report on the vehicle's use.

"Did we use the vehicle? Were we deployed? What were the circumstances of? What were the results of that? How did it score on the threat matrix? And every month we will review that publicly and that's never been the practice in our community before," Bloomington Mayor John Hamilton said.

"The city council needs to be held to the fire so to say to make sure we put in an ordinance with an over sit of this vehicle to make sure it's a tool of good," Booker said, adding items like racial disparity, use of force and property damage should be included.

There are at least eight other police departments in central Indiana who also have some form of an armored vehicle. Bloomington police said they expect to have it in use by the end of the month.

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