The Moorestown Police Department on Thursday backed off its plan to acquire a mine-resistant vehicle from the federal government, citing concerns expressed by residents.
It was "more than we really needed," Lt. Lee Lieber said, "as far as its capabilities."
The Inquirer reported Tuesday that the department was interested in obtaining the Navistar MaxxPro Dash through the federal 1033 program, which lends surplus military equipment to police agencies at little cost.
The program came into the spotlight last year when police in Ferguson, Mo., responded to violent protests with armored trucks and militarylike weapons after the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, 18, by a police officer.
While the MaxxPro Dash had unanimous support from the township council, some residents and others voiced concern that it would send a message of intimidation rather than safety to the public.
In an interview Tuesday, Lieber said, "We're not looking to militarize the police."
The department, he said, would use the vehicle only if someone using a high-powered weapon attacked a target such as Moorestown Mall or the Lockheed Martin facility. "The problem is, most of these bad guys have already been militarized," Lieber said.
On Thursday, Lieber acknowledged that residents' concerns caused officials to rethink the plan.
The MaxxPro Dash can withstand roadside bombs and rounds from military rifles. It would have replaced the department's 1998 Ford E-350 van, which has bulletproof windows that can withstand handgun rounds but not larger-caliber bullets.
Moorestown police have looked into replacing the van for more than a year.
In deciding not to apply for the MaxxPro Dash, police considered the cost of maintaining a vehicle they would rarely use. Township Manager Scott Carew said the cost was comparable to maintaining a dump truck, but an exact figure was unavailable.
Police will review other options but have nothing on the table, Lieber said.