Battle in Bergen County over armored vehicles

HACKENSACK, N.J. (WABC) -- Does Bergen County need armored vehicles tough enough to withstand a roadside bomb?

The sheriff thinks so, but now a battle is brewing over whether to allow the heavy military equipment on the streets.

The sheriff is putting a delay on the delivery of two of those armored vehicles while the federal government reviews the military surplus program.

But now, Bergen County's executive wants to make that delay permanent.

"I think the politics of this stinks," said Sheriff Michael Saudino, Bergen County.

A combative Bergen county sheriff lobbed a verbal volley Thursday at County Executive Kathleen Donovan, who is trying to stop two Armored Vehicles, or MRAPs, from coming to the county through a federal military surplus program.

"They are mine-resistant tanks to be used in war and they don't belong on the streets of Bergen County," said Kathleen Donovan, Bergen County Executive.

Donovan maintains the Bergen County Police Department, which she oversees, already has an adequate number of vehicles in its arsenal, including one for its SWAT team. She is opposed to a proposal to merge the cops into the Sheriff's Department.

"She talks about militarizing. This is to keep her army intact, to be the only game in town, and it's wrong," Saudino said.

The Sheriff agreed to delay the acquisition of the MRAPs while the state and US Attorney General review the surplus program.

That move comes in the wake of images if military gear used by Ferguson, Missouri police to quell civil unrest there. The sheriff cited two recent examples where MRAPs in Texas and LA have saved officers from violent fugitives.

"If anyone thinks that the bad guys only have little revolvers out there, they're sadly mistaken. The world has changed, this country has changed," Sheriff Saudino said.

"If we have a situation where we need a tank, we will call in the National Guard," Donovan said.
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So what do locals think of armored tanks on the streets?

"Situations happen like the Missouri thing and they don't need no armored vehicle here, Hackensack, Bergen County, period," said Lamar Keeley, a Bergen County resident.

"You can never have enough. With what's coming over the border and everything else, you can never have enough to protect the people in the streets. (So you support that tank?) Absolutely," said Frank Madden, a Bergen County resident.
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