Sunday, October 02, 2005

Detroit's Intended Purchase Of Assault Tank Comes Under Fire

It's a huge tank with a huge price tag.The Detroit Police department is ready to make a big purchase on a crime-fighting vehicle despite laying off dozens of officers.It's an armored urban assault vehicle that would be used in drug raids and will cost the department $743,000.The vehicle, called "The General," can cross rivers and protect its passengers from explosive land mines. It has 20 wheels and is equipped with periscopes.For drug assaults, the vehicle has massive fire power and can knock down doors, Local 4 reported.It is one awesome piece of equipment, said those familiar with the vehicle, but the controversial question is the cost. Opponents say spending money on the vehicle is inconceivable when the city is making significant cuts in its police department.Critics of the purchase believe the department is short on cars and radios, long on response times and shouldn't be spending the cash on the vehicle."We stand firm saying this is a very much needed piece of equipment," said James Tate of the Detroit Police department.Sheila Cockrel, of the Detroit City Council, said the money should be spent on more pressing needs like training officers."Is this the highest and best use or is it a just another sort of big toy for big guys?" said Cockrel.Detroit would be the first major city to buy The General. Oakland County has one, as does a county in Tennessee.The city council is expected to vote on the purchase Wednesday.

The Detroit Police department said the money is not coming from taxpayers or the city's general fund, but from drug forfeitures. A police spokesman said the vehicle would be a real advance for the department.


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