Logan Township police have added an 8-ton vehicle to its fleet.
The 2012 Lenco Bearcat G3, a $250,000 4-wheel-drive armored truck purchased with federal grant money, will be housed in the township garage and available to respond to any high-risk situation in the region.
"If we never use it, so be it. If we use it once, so be it," Chief Ron Heller said Thursday night.
Mirror photo by Greg Bock
Logan Township recently took possession of an armored vehicle on behalf of the South Central Mountain Regional Task Force that can be used on high-risk emergency or terrorist incidents across the region. Money for the vehicle came from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
The South Central Mountain Regional Task Force, one of nine in the state formed in 1998 to help local municipalities deal with large-scale events such as terrorism attacks, sought the grant money through the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Homeland Security.
Because the task force cannot own the vehicle, Logan Township agreed to title, house, maintain and insure it.
"This is our tax dollars coming back to us," Supervisors Chairman Frank Meloy said after getting a close-up view of the vehicle outside the township municipal building.
Supervisor Jim Patterson praised Heller for his efforts to acquire the vehicle that will be added protection for the township SWAT team officers responding to dangerous situations.
"It's another tool that we have available to use," Patterson said.
"Our SWAT guys are an asset to the task force," Heller said.
Through a memorandum of understanding, the vehicle and SWAT team are available to respond to high-risk situations outside local jurisdictions.
"We provide that service to those who need it," said Heller, pointing out that the closest comparable vehicles, both owned by the state police, are stationed in Hershey and Pittsburgh.
Logan Township mechanic Jeff Stevens said the truck has a lot of get-up-and-go for weighing in at 16,000 pounds. It was built on a Ford F-550 frame with a 6.7-liter twin-turbo diesel engine.
"For as big and heavy as it is, it moves pretty well and can turn pretty tight," said Stevens. "It can get out of a tight spot very well."
The Bearcat is designed to take on just about anything a heavily-armed criminal might throw at police, Heller said.
The truck, including its windows, has the ability to stop .50-caliber bullets. It carries up to 10 officers in full gear as well as a driver and passenger. It has 10 gun ports, a gun turret, has run-flat tires and comes with sensors that can detect nuclear, biological, chemical and explosive threats outside the vehicle.
Running boards can allow officers to ride outside the truck, a necessity when trying to move quickly into or out of a dangerous area. It also has a ram, at the front, which can be extended as much as 16 feet.
"The vehicle is great, but it's unfortunate in today's society that we have to have something like that," Supervisor Joe Metzgar said.
Heller said the truck, painted with a military-grade paint, will get police decals. Lenco Armored Vehicles, the Massachusetts-based company that built the vehicle, already affixed a Pittsburgh Steelers license plate on the front.
Mirror Staff Writer Greg Bock is at 946-7458. Staff Writer Kay Stephens is at 946-7456.