After the standoff last August in a Great Bend motel parking lot, Police Chief Cliff Couch was concerned by the lack of having an armored vehicle that would have allowed officers to handle the situation more safely.
He looked into finding a vehicle that would work in such situations. Now, that will soon change.
Couch found a tactical vehicle that is being used by Garden City which officials there are replacing. It is handled through the Federal Surplus Program and Great Bend can obtain it at no cost.
The City Council Tuesday night authorized Mayor Mike Allison to sign the letter of permission for the acquisition of the tactical vehicle.
“A lot of people came out and helped us,” Couch said of incident involving the armed Oklahoma man who holed up in his vehicle with his children after shooting his wife back home. However, when they rely on outside support, it takes quite a while for it to arrive.
“I keep looking for ways we can be better prepared in the future,” Couch said. He came to two conclusions after that standoff – his department needed something and he didn’t want to ask for over $200,000 to buy a new armored car.
“We could have used access to an armored vehicle a lot quicker,” he said. That’s when he started his search and contacted his colleagues at other police departments.
That’s when he found the armored personnel carrier in Garden City. “It’s old,” he said, adding it dates back to use by military security in the 1970s.
“It’s not as good as new,” he said. And, the armor may require some modifications, but it will more than suffice.
The only cost will be a $500 administrative fee the state charges for access to the surplus program.
“Although our Police Department strives to be creative and, whenever possible, peaceful in the way that approach problems, we understand that some instances require a professional application of tactics to affect a resolution,” the letter reads. “We believe that this vehicle will help enhance the safety of the officers of our department, as well as the citizens of our community.”
Couch is also concerned about the appearance of police departments becoming overly militarized. Preventing this image is something that factors into uniform selection and other departmental decisions, and played into this acquisition as well.
“This is not a tank,” Couch said. “There are no guns on it. It is in no way an offensive weapon.”
Instead, it is something that can stop a bullet as officers approach a crime scene.
As a side note, Couch said the GBPD has tapped the surplus program in the past for such items as assault rifles for officers.
City Administrator Howard Partington said other city departments have used the program as well.