Blue said the vehicle is only to be used to rescue injured persons in hostage or standoff situations.
“If you ever need an armored car, you’re really glad to have one, because that means it’s a bad day,” he said.
Orange County Sheriff Lindy Pendergrass said Orange County has one armored vehicle, which was used once in a situation where a suspect was brandishing a rifle.
“The individual was barricaded in a house,” he said. “He was acting out of his head. We pulled right up to the house and he came out.”
Lt. Joshua Mecimore said other military surplus equipment CHPD possesses includes uniforms used for training and optic equipment.
Pendergrass said the county has 14 military pick-ups with four-wheel drive for use in inclement weather, a five-ton truck the county uses to push trees out of the road and a number of rifles and handguns, which Pendergrass said officers aren’t trained to use.
“They’re still packed up just like the day we received them,” he said.
Hillsborough Police Chief Duane Hampton said the town does use military surplus kevlar helmets, but also has several items that are not in use, including four semi-automatic rifles, flak jackets and surveillance equipment.
Hampton and Pendergrass said the departments have attempted to return military surplus equipment and had their requests denied.
“Once they give it to you, they want to you to maintain and inventory it forever, and they don’t want it back,” Hampton said.
Capt. Chris Atack, a spokesman for Carrboro Police, would not comment on the specifics of Carrboro’s millitary surplus equipment before a report is presented to the Board of Aldermen Thursday.
In the wake of events in Ferguson, Mo., the police departments of Hillsborough, Chapel Hill and Carrboro and the Orange County Sheriff’s Office have been asked by their respective governments to compile information on their military surplus equipment .
In August, an unarmed black Missouri teen was shot and killed by police. Police response to the ensuing protests led to a debate about the use of excessive force by police, particularly against minorities.
The event raised questions about the way local police departments communicate how they operate to the public.
Mecimore said CHPD does not have an inventory of the quantity of its military surplus equipment, nor does it have a comprehensive list of equipment it owns.
The department’s vehicle policy does not include procedures for the armored vehicle, though he said CHPD’s tactical team has procedures in place.
Neither Chapel Hill nor Hillsborough regularly presents data to their town governments about whether force is used disproportionately against people of certain races, though both conduct internal reviews and trainings.
“Is it a topic of discussion? Absolutely. It is also something we pay attention to in our use of force reviews. We look at race, sex and age,” Hillsborough’s Hampton said.
Blue said CHPD is still figuring out how to quell concerns about the use of force.
“The concerns about militarization — that’s not a new discussion, it’s one law enforcement leaders have had, too,” he said.
Chapel Hill established a Community Policing Advisory Committee in 2011. Ron Bogle, chair of CPAC, said it is not a civilian review board.
“Civilian review boards have much more influence than CPAC does,” he said. “We’re not police professionals.”
The committee was created shortly before a run-in between police and an Occupy Wall Street protest at the Ford Motor Company building on Franklin Street. Police response to the incident drew criticism from residents after officers used assault rifles to control the protest.
Chapel Hill’s Yates building incident sparked several changes in CHPD training and policy, Bogle said. That meant more explicitly defining what kinds of force are appropriate.
Mike Meno, spokesman for the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina, said the sequence of events that occurred in Chapel Hill is not uncommon.
“Looking at pictures of the Chapel Hill incident brings to mind all too often the military mindset that is seeping into everyday policing,” he said.
Peter Feaver, director of Duke University’s Triangle Institute for Security Studies, said the hybridization of police and military tactics comes from creation of the Special Weapons And Tactics (SWAT) team in the 1970s.
“While they did draw on military training to get (SWAT) started, there were very important differences, because they were police and were in support of a law enforcement goal — keeping people alive if possible,” he said. “The criticism that we’ve seen is that the balance may have shifted in the last four or five years.”
As CHPD was making policy changes following the incident, CPAC was helping improve Chapel Hill’s Community Police Academy, a tool for educating citizens about how police operate.
Blue said in addition to hosting a version of the Community Police Academy in the coming weeks, CHPD will soon publish an in-depth analysis of the department’s operations that is being conducted by the International City Managers’ Association.
“It’s easy to get passionate when you look at something like Ferguson,” Blue said.
“But you hope you’re making good decisions so you never find yourself in that place.”