THE SHERIFF WRITES: While there have been some concerns raised recently regarding my Office’s plan to acquire an armored truck, I wish to avoid fueling the political rhetoric and will instead simply present the facts.
FACT: The Bergen County Sheriff’s Office long had an armored truck which served important albeit limited uses. That truck has since been retired due to its age, and we are now attempting to acquire a replacement at no cost to the taxpayer. This opportunity represents a substantial savings. For reference, the County Executive in 2011 reportedly spent $750,000 to purchase a similar armored vehicle.
FACT: While this Office has requested two trucks, it was never our intention to place both into operation. The second truck is being requested as a source of replacement parts for the first. This is an effort to help avoid any additional purchases down the road.
FACT: To represent this truck as a “combat vehicle” or a “tank” is misleading as it has no weapons systems or offensive capabilities whatsoever. The style of these trucks is designed for one simple purpose, to protect the occupants of the truck.
FACT: Many other Sheriff’s Offices, regional police departments, and even some municipalities have acquired these trucks. They similarly use these vehicles for various tasks such as high-risk warrant entries, high-risk prisoner transports, homeland security and natural disaster responses, as well as for their utility in high-water rescue situations. These trucks are in use all over the nation, as well as in New Jersey, because they save lives.
FACT: As a Constitutional Officer, I am a firm defender of the people’s liberties and rights. I am also personally sensitive to the militarization of police forces after having spent 42 years in law enforcement continually promoting the idea of community based policing.
I would sincerely hope that the residents of Bergen County will not allow themselves to be misled or have their emotions swayed by politicians attempting to score cheap political points. In light of recent incidents at shopping malls, schools, and other public facilities across the nation, it is inexcusable to play election year politics when it comes to public safety or officers’ safety.
BERGEN COUNTY SHERIFF MICHAEL SAUDINO
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