County approves cuts to Alameda Sheriff’s Urban Shield program, shutting it down

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ALAMEDA COUNTY (KRON) — “I am heartbroken,” said Alameda County Sheriff Greg Ahern. “This is something that I created to help first responders do their job.”

Sheriff Ahern started Urban Shield in 2007. He’s so proud of it – a banner with the logo hangs over his desk.

The four day event every fall features drills and a weapons expo, attracting law enforcement from the around the world.

The event allows Bay Area agencies to train together on responding to emergencies and acts of terrorism.

It also comes with protests, with critics calling Urban Shield too military-like, xenophobic and racist. After a year long review, the board of supervisors voted this week to shift nearly $5 million away from the program — cutting the funding drastically, which the sheriff says shuts it down.

“These first responders are going to be at risk when they go out to do dangerous jobs,” the sheriff said. “When they are running towards gunfire and people are running away, they might not be properly trained with the best equipment as it changes every year”

The Stop Urban Shield group supports the move and told KRON4, it wants large training programs for law enforcement agencies to focus more on earthquake and other natural disaster training.

“What we are saying is we want to to build up the community in ways that don’t rely on militarization and exclusion but also works with them,” said a representative from the group.

There are no plans for a revamp or a come back of urban shield by the Sheriff’s Office.

The program as it once was, is over.

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