An open letter to Evan Royce, District 3 Supervisor, Tuolumne County
Dear Supervisor Royce,
I am writing to express my concern over the possible purchase of an armored vehicle for the Sheriff’s Department. I am concerned about the message it sends to the public and the attitude it may encourage within the Department. Policing is not the same as military operations and in recent times, confusion between the two has led to tragedy. I admit to having no first hand experience, either in police work or the military. However I am painfully aware of cases in which the police and the members of their community view themselves as armed combatants. Thankfully, I don’t think this is true in Tuolumne County and I wish to keep it that way.
I’d like to know what the designated purpose of this vehicle will be. In my view, SWAT operations should be limited to well defined, high risk situations such as hostage, active shooter or terrorist scenarios. Too often, SWAT teams are used to execute routine search warrants, essentially allowing the use of paramilitary tactics to conduct domestic drug investigations in people’s homes.
In many parts of the country, tensions between police forces and the communities they serve have never been higher. Well educated, affluent people are hesitant to become involved with or assist the police. Increasingly sophisticated weaponry has not made the public or the police any safer. Let’s make sure that our police and sheriffs are equipped to do the job that they’re charged to perform, not make them into an occupying force.