Alameda County leaders vote to fund Urban Shield through end of the year

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- The Alameda County Board of Supervisors voted to fund the controversial Urban Shield program Tuesday as opponents rallied inside and outside the meeting.

The county will be accepting $5 million from the Department of Homeland Security for the multi-police agency Urban Shield exercise.

Urban Shield attracts local, national, and sometimes international police every September in a two-day exercise. Officers like Captain Sean Washington of the Fremont Police call it training. "I certainly understand concerns about the equipment we use, but we do in a responsible way," said Washington.

The board voted 4-1 in favor, but this will be the last year due to all the criticism.

The Sheriff's Office says the training is valuable, but critics argue it deepens the divide between people and the police.

"They are racist and targeting black and brown people," one opponent said.

Some 7,000 people, including community volunteers take part in Urban Shield, which began in 2007. Police agencies insist that it is all about learning to work together in unique circumstances.

"I was here after the quake and fire and you have all these agencies to help and you have to manage them," said Alameda County Sheriff's Sergeant J.D. Nelson.

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