Since his current car has failed due to a mechanical problem, the Salina Police Department is set to buy a new Armored Rescue Vehicle (ARV) following approval from the Salina City Commission on Monday.
Police Capt. Gary Hanus presented the Commission with a proposal to purchase the Lenco BearCat G3 ARV, saying it was an example of the need for agencies around the country to have the best equipment.
“(It is necessary), especially in this day of mass incidents and situations with a high probability of civilians and officers being injured by firearms,” Ganus said.
BearCat will be used by SPD special forces, and according to Hanus, the main purpose of the ARVs is to provide ballistic protection for these law enforcement officers, special forces medics and citizens during firearms events.
Hanus said time is of the essence in such situations, and having equipment ready and working is “of paramount importance” to the success and safety of officers and citizens.
“Not military equipment”
Hanus said ARVs are just civilian law enforcement tools to enable officers to respond, be prepared and improve the situation in a peaceful way.
“These vehicles are not military,” Hanus said. “By their essential value, these armored rescue vehicles are a de-escalation tool used to induce subjects to voluntarily consent, which are the focus of law enforcement response.”
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The use of SPD ARVs is not common, and Hanus said that the use and deployment of one of these is monitored and verified by police officers, including the high command in the department.
“Any consideration to use an armored rescue vehicle is being considered, tactfully considered and must be approved by the chief of police,” Ganus said.
Hanus said that over the past six years, the department’s current ARV drug rollout has been limited to 30 uses for scheduled events and five uses for unplanned events. This time was added to the time ARVs were used for educational purposes.
Why did you choose BearCat and not another armored vehicle?
Armored vehicles are used around the world for a variety of purposes, Hanus said, and the agency has identified five companies making them for law enforcement.
Hanus said SPD staff looked into buying options for the new ARV and came up with 13 features to replace the vehicle, including things like meeting national transport safety standards and enough space to accommodate the entire 12-man special forces team and one medic during deployment. However, one of the most important things about BearCat is compatibility with other law enforcement agencies nearby.
“Staff have identified six other agencies within 65 miles of Salina that are also using the Lenco Bearcat G3 or are waiting for one to arrive,” Hanus said. “Having this kind of equipment allows mutual response agencies to work more efficiently during an incident.”
These other agencies include the Junction City and Riley County Police Departments, Geary County, Harvey County, and Reno County Sheriff’s Offices, and the Kansas Highway Patrol.
He said the department also sees buying a BearCat as the best option in terms of durability, cost, protection and multi-purpose functionality.
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How much is the city spending on BearCat?
While the total cost of BearCat is over $300,000, the police department was able to find funding sources to help pay for it through the Wilson Foundation, the Salin Police Excellence Fund, the Salin County Sheriff’s Office forfeiture funds, and Interstate 70-35. The Drug Enforcement Task Force make up the bulk of the cost.
“If approved, the Salina Police Department from the 2022 operating budget will (only pay) $96,903,” Hanus said.
The commissions were pleased with the SPD offer, saying it was a necessary purchase for the city, especially since the department’s current ARV drug, which was purchased in 2011 through the federal government’s 1033 military surplus program, has been out of service since June 2022. with mechanical problems that would cost over $5,000.
“(Since June) have we had calls when we were stranded and had to borrow a car from KHP?” Commissioner Bill Longbein asked.
Interim Police Chief Sean Morton said no such incident had yet occurred, but noted that the department had spoken to the Kansas Highway Patrol about it being an option if necessary.
“It takes some time to get[KHP’s ARV]to the scene because their driver doesn’t actually live here in Salina,” Morton said.
Commissioner Carl Ryan said he saw an opportunity to acquire BearCat as one that puts Salina “on par” with similar cities in the state.
In the end, the commission voted 5-0 in favor of buying the Lenco BearCat G3 ARV drug. According to the commission’s documents, the production time for the BearCat is 12 months, but Hans said training would begin with the SWAT team before the department received ARVs.
“Once we see the project moving forward, we have plans to provide specific training in the operation and use of this type of vehicle for our officers,” Hanus said.