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San Diego school district to return armored military vehicle

San Diego school district to return armored military vehicle
San Diego school officials have decided to return an armored military vehicle to the Department of Defense. (San Diego Unified School District)

The San Diego school district will return its armored military vehicle to the Department of Defense, school officials announced Thursday night.

The district joins a list of agencies returning excess military equipment amid a national controversy over local law enforcement agencies using such equipment.

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The controversy erupted when police in Ferguson, Mo., used military equipment and tactics to quell protests after the shooting of an unarmed black man by a white police officer.

Law enforcement agencies in Ferguson, like hundreds of others, had received military equipment at no cost under the Excess Property Program.

The San Diego Unified School District's police department had planned to use the vehicle, called a Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle or MRAP, in the event that students and employees needed to be rescued from an "active shooter" on campus.

But Supt. Cindy Marten, in announcing the decision to return the vehicle, said that "some members of our community are not comfortable with the district having this vehicle.

"If any part of our community is not comfortable with it, we cannot be comfortable with it."

Rueben Littlejohn, chief of the school district's police department, said that "the value that this defensive tool would bring cannot exceed the value of retaining the public's trust [and] confidence.''

School district police officers were trained in using the vehicle by Marines. The MRAP was used extensively in Iraq and Afghanistan to protect troops from buried bombs and snipers.

The district received the vehicle in April. It has no offensive capability such as gun portals.

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