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Bergen County Officials At Odds Over Military Surplus Vehicles For Police

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HACKENSACK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — The plan for Bergen County, New Jersey to obtain two military-style vehicles has been put on hold, with two emotional sides taking stands on the controversial issue.

As CBS 2’s John Slattery reported, Bergen County Sheriff Michael Saudino would like to have the two mine-resistant, ambush-protected armored vehicles.

“We’re up against bad guys that have weapons that they should not have,” Saudino said.

Opposing the acquisition is County Executive Kathleen Donovan.

“These 50,000-pound, tank-like armored vehicles have no place on our streets and in our towns,” Donovan said.

Donovan requested a one-year moratorium on acquiring such hardware, after the Board of Freeholders approved a resolution for them. Both the U.S. and New Jersey state attorneys general have been looking to slow down the surplus distribution of heavy gear used Afghanistan and Iraq.

The sheriff has also agreed to a delay while the issue is reviewed.

The simmering debate came to a boil with use of armored vehicles to confront civil unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, following the police shooting of an unarmed black teenager, Michael Brown, by a white officer. In Hackensack, New Jersey, residents were split on the issue.

“I think it is a good idea,” said Mike Whitney of Hackensack. “After what you saw in Ferguson, I think if you want to keep control, then you might need those military vehicles.”

“I think it’s the wrong message. I think it’s too much equipment,” said Sam Samaro of Hackensack. “I think when you have it, you tend to use it, and what you get is what you got in Ferguson.”

The U.S. Army has been giving away up to 13,000 armored trucks, worth about $500,000 each.

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