The Detroit Police Department, after deciding to lay off 150 officers, wants to buy a $743,000 urban assault vehicle that can traverse rivers, is resistant to landmines, and is equipped with periscopes, reports the Detroit News. The City Council is expected today to approve purchasing “The Commander” general-purpose vehicle for use in executing drug raids. It could be used in case of a terrorist attack or a natural disaster. The vehicle would be bought with drug forfeiture money, cash that also can be used to hire narcotics-dedicated personnel and equipment, police spokesman James Tate said.
Some question whether the cash-strapped city can afford to spend so much on a vehicle while it’s laying off police officers and slashing other programs. It costs around $70,000 a year to keep one officer on the street. “This is all about priorities,” said Detroit Police Officers Association President Marty Bandemer. He said the department should be looking at ways to hire more cops rather than buy expensive equipment. Drug forfeiture money is used primarily for equipment and vehicles. In certain circumstances it can be used for officers to help “fight the war on drugs,” Tate said.