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VIDEO: Banning Police Union Member Says Retrofitting MRAP Will Cost 'Zero Dollars'

Banning-Beaumont Patch video by Guy McCarthy

Banning residents, business owners, school and city officials meet with Banning Police Officers Association members at Russo's in Banning, Calif., Jan. 7, 2014. Banning-Beaumont Patch video by Guy McCarthy.
Banning residents, business owners, school and city officials meet with Banning Police Officers Association members at Russo's in Banning, Calif., Jan. 7, 2014. Banning-Beaumont Patch video by Guy McCarthy.
A resident Tuesday night asked about retrofitting the military surplus Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle recently acquired by the Banning Police Department, and an officer who played a role in the acquisition said it will cost "zero dollars."

Don Smith of the Banning Cultural Alliance asked which priority police union members would favor: spending money on making the MRAP street ready for police use, or spending that money on hiring another police officer.

"There is zero amount of dollars needed to retrofit the MRAP," Banning police Cpl. Joe Feola said during the Jan. 7 meeting at Russo's. "It won't cost the city a dime. Wherever this hundred thousand dollar number came from you guys read in the Patch or the Banning Informer, I have no idea where that came from. Zero dollars."

A Banning-Beaumont Patch report published in December includes the statement:

Retrofitting a surplus armored military vehicle for law enforcement can cost $100,000 or more.

Murrieta police in October unveiled a Panzer Casspir armored vehicle obtained from the Department of Defense in 2011. The department spent $130,000 to transport and retrofit the Casspir with new electrical wiring, paint and fabrication, Murrieta police Lt. Tony Conrad told Murrieta Patch.

The $130,000 spent on the Casspir came from monies seized during narcotics-related investigations, Conrad told Patch.

The Salinas Police Department recently acquired an MRAP similar to the one obtained by Banning PD. KSBW News reported Dec. 20 the department spent "just over $4,000" on paint and emergency lights to make the MRAP suitable for police work.

Approached after Tuesday night's meeting, Feola said he believed the reason Murrieta PD had to spend so much on their armored vehicle is because it was an older vehicle that needed work. He emphasized Banning PD's MRAP is street-ready, and he can get a paint job donated.

Feola also told residents during the meeting, "If we get to keep the MRAP, the military has a class that whoever's going to be driving the MRAP, they'll be fully certified to drive it."

Feola and Banning police Cpl. Brandon Smith were among police union members who met with residents, business owners, school and city officials Jan. 7 at Russo's Italian Kitchen.

The BPOA is the union for all 24 sworn non-administration personnel who work for the Banning Police Department, said Smith, an elected representative of the Banning Police Officers Association.

For more from Tuesday night's meeting see:

VIDEO: Residents Discuss MRAP, Mutual Aid, Chief Search with Police Union Members

VIDEO: Resident Who Lives Near Jail Asks Police About Inmates Released in Neighborhood

More From BPOA Meeting: Resident Asks Banning Police Officers About Hiring

Residents Ask Banning Police Union Members About Volunteers, Chief's Vacancy

VIDEO: Banning Police Union Members Respond to Questions on Staffing, MRAP

VIDEO: Resident Asks Banning Police Officers About RR Crossing, Unsolved Homicides

VIDEO: Residents Hear Banning Police Union Perspective at Russo's
Jeremiah January 10, 2014 at 10:46 AM
Not taking sides here, but it seems that class should have been taken BEFORE driving an untried and untested vehicle just out of storage at over the rated speed. Any number of commercial drivers could have been hired to drive that vehicle back if no one had a commercial license on the force. As far as the story about the donation of paint and markings, that part is true and I am told it has been done before. Big difference between $100,000 and $4,000 - it appears to me people on both sides of this issue are wildly throwing figures around in an attempt to bolster their position. **** Jeremiah
Jeremiah January 10, 2014 at 10:53 AM
Possibly Banning should send this unit back and wait for a helicopter to be issued? Or different armored vehicle designed for protection from something other than ground based IED and mine blasts? Even though it is a step up in protection from the recycled money pickup vehicle, it doesn't provide the complete protection desired for our officers. **** But on the other hand, when you have a budget so short you cannot afford to hire more officers, you don't look a gift horse in the mouth. **** Jeremiah
haden ward January 10, 2014 at 02:36 PM
Well said. The paint isn't the expensive part. And they may be talking about grant money, but the up keep and everything else about wiring and lights is BS. (they still don't need a BS team) it seems to serve no purpose other than cool points.

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