Johnson County Sheriff Brad Kunkel says MRAP would be traded in for potential new Bearcat if board approves funding

Published: Dec. 8, 2021 at 5:26 PM CST
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IOWA CITY, Iowa (KCRG) - Some people in Johnson County are asking the Board of Supervisors to get rid of military-style armored vehicles that the Sheriff’s Office uses in certain situations.

At Monday’s supervisors meeting, it got vocal as opponents asked “why” this would be necessary.

Amel Ali is the vice chair of Iowa City’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. She was one of almost 20 people who addressed the board.

“I understand the idea of wanting to keep the police safe, but then what happens to the rest of the people involved in those situations. And what happens when the police get out of the bearcat,” said Ali.

After public comment, Johnson County Sheriff Brad Kunkel proposed to spend $240,000 to replace its current mine-resistant armored personnel vehicle, or MRAP, with a smaller Bearcat, similar to the one that Linn County uses.

We reached out to Sheriff Kunkel for a comment, and he sent us a statement.

“A few months ago, during a Board of Supervisors, meeting the Board asked if there was an alternative to the MRAP and I suggested the Lecno Bearcat was a suitable alternative,” he said in his statement. “During a follow up meeting the Board the Supervisors opted to defer this decision to the budget process which brings us to today.”

Still, some critics think the department shouldn’t have any type of military vehicles.

“The people that are going to be most effected by this need to have a say in this,” said Ali.

But if the MRAP does stay with the sheriff’s office, which Kunkel says is a possibility, Ali wants the Board of Supervisors to be more involved in how and when it is used.

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