Johnson County Sheriff Asks For Smaller Armored Vehicle

IOWA CITY, Iowa (KWWL) - The Johnson County Board of Supervisors is deciding on new additions to the sheriff's budget this month, and body cameras and a new armored vehicle are facing an uphill battle.

During a budget work session Wednesday, the supervisors voted to only approve $200,000 of the $400,000 the sheriff is asking for for new body cameras. This was the first of three votes on the "decision packet", but it is unlikely it will be reconsidered.

The board voted 5-0 to approve the first $200,000, but voted 3-2 to deny the additional $200,000.

"We have to make some hard decisions...some cuts," Supervisor Lisa Green-Douglass said.

Sheriff Brad Kunkel says the vendor they bought the current body cameras from is under new ownership, and the tech support for the cameras they use is going offline. Kunkel says they cannot run two systems at the same time, and thus says they need to replace every camera in the fiscal year 2023 budget.

Green-Douglass says they don't have enough money to add this to the budget, and even if they did, she thinks it would be unwise.

"If we buy them all right now, they will all need to be replaced...all at the same time," she said.

If they continue on this current path, the plan would be to buy the rest of the cameras in at most one year. There would likely be a time when not all deputies have cameras.

One item that was unanimously denied Wednesday was $240,000 for a new armored vehicle called a Bearcat. 

Many people in Iowa City are outraged by the way Iowa City Police and the sheriff continue to use the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle or "MRAP". The MRAP was given to the county for free in 2014 as part of a military surplus program.

People say the vehicle is used unnecessarily, and sends a bad message about community trust. The vehicle has been used 21 times in seven years  and Sheriff Kunkel says it is needed to keep deputies and the public safe.

BEARCAT2

The Linn County Bearcat

MRAP

The Johnson County MRAP

Supervisor Royceann Porter had the idea in 2021 to replace the MRAP with a slightly smaller Bearcat. However, on Wednesday, she voted no for it; saying the cost is too much and she wishes Iowa City would have helped them pay for it.

"I was hoping to have that discussion so the other municipalities would have chipped in and the $240,000 would not have been on the Johnson County Supervisors," Porter said. 

Green-Douglass said their department heads are saying that revenues are declining for the county. While over $6 million was allotted to FY 2023 from the American Rescue Plan, none of that is applicable to the sheriff's budget.

Source : https://www.kwwl.com/news/supervisors-support-only-half-of-body-camera-budget-also-deny-new-armored-vehicle/article_d607854a-742c-11ec-8cd9-e36852d04c6c.html

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Supervisors support only half of body camera budget, also deny new armored vehicle

Source:KWWL

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