Bloomington’s city council gave final approval to an ordinance Wednesday night that limits the use of a new armored vehicle.
The measure says the Lenco Bearcat can’t be used for crowd control. It also prohibits certain exterior additions to the vehicle, such as firearms, water cannons and any projectile weapon. Only the police department’s Critical Incident Response Team will have access to the Bearcat.
The council decided to draft the ordinance after public protests over the purchase of the vehicle.
Council Vice President Isabel Piedmont-Smith says she hopes the restrictions will help rebuild trust.
“The Mayor and the police department had the money in the budget to make the purchase in their capital line,” she says. “But it was actually presented to the city council as money that was going to be used to refurbish and renovate the police station and the garage attached to the police station. That money was then reallocated for purchase of this vehicle.”
She says the council is also working on other measures to increase transparency and enhance communication in the future.
“We’re drafting legislation to require the administration to come back to the council if they decide to reallocate funds that have been put in the budget for one purpose, and they decide to use that money for another purpose, above $100,000,” Piedmont-Smith says. “So that we know what capital projects are coming and we can have a say in whether or not we want to proceed with them.”
It’s unclear when the council could vote on that proposal.
Piedmont-Smith says it’s up to the board of public safety now to make sure the restrictions are enforced.
“I think it’s really in their hands to see how the vehicle is used and whether any further restrictions need to be placed on it,” she says.
Piedmont-Smith says the police department also needs to continue reaching out to minority communities and listening to people who have concerns to restore public trust.
WATCH: Video Timeline of Armored Vehicle Purchase, Protests