MACOMB (WWJ) – The federal government is forcing the Macomb County Sheriff’s Office to return an armored personnel carrier that it has used in several life-threatening situations for the past 11 years.
The M113 armored personnel carrier, also known as a tank, was given to the county back in 2004 by the military to help in their mission to provide public safety. Now, it has to be returned under an executive order signed earlier this year by President Barack Obama, who doesn’t want local law enforcement units to look like the military. The order was signed following the 2014 riots in Ferguson, Missouri.
Sheriff Anthony Wickersham is not happy — to say the least.
“It doesn’t make any sense,” Wickersham told WWJ’s Charlie Langton. “We’ve never abused the authority, we’ve never abused the piece of equipment. We’ve used it many times in life-saving responses and it has protected our SWAT team personnel.”
Wickersham said the tank is one of his most invaluable tools — it keeps his team safe in the line of fire and lets residents know his department is well-equipped to handle anything that comes its way.
“When that tank comes down the street, that means there’s a bad situation, there’s somebody that’s involved in a life threatening situation — whether that’s a barricaded gunman, a hostage situation, a high-risk raid where shots can be fired — and when the citizens in those neighborhoods know that something bad is going on in their neighborhood, that we’re going to be able to resolve it quickly and we’re going to have the protection to protect our people and protect the citizens in that area,” he said.
What grinds his gears even more, Wickersham said, is that the tank will now likely be destroyed.
“I don’t know anything officially but one of the things that we’ve been told is that this piece of equipment may be used as target practice,” he said. “They may just blow it up.”
The tank has to be returned to the government by December 7 and even though Wickersham doesn’t agree with the order, his hands are tied.
“We understand what’s going on around the country but I think it’s kind of a blanket response to certain issues that are going on,” he said. “So it’s like, OK, now we have to give it back and I have to come up with a plan to come up with a new armored personnel carrier to protect my SWAT people and the citizens of Macomb County.”
And that plan is already in motion. The department has received a quote of around $330,000 for a tank that’s currently used by law enforcement in southeast Michigan.
“I’m hopeful, though now I have to go through a process to secure some funding, but I’m going to do what I can to take care of the people here in Macomb County,” Wickersham said. “We have to solve problems and this here is just another problem that we have to solve.”