The Great Bend Police department recently acquired a special weapons and tactics vehicle that will help the department be ready for any situation the officers may face.
“After the Perkins standoff that occurred on Aug. 14, 2015, and having an understanding of what our state of readiness is, we decided that we could use a vehicle like this to be ready for that situation that might arise,” Chief Cliff Couch said.
According to Couch, the vehicle has many different purposes. It can be used in all kinds of emergencies such as natural disasters, hostage situations, standoffs, active shooters and drug seizures.
“We needed something that we can put between us and them to not only keep our officers safe but evacuate any innocent victims,” Couch said. “So this vehicle is a great asset to have for these situations or any others that happen.”
The chief realizes the public may have concerns about police militarization and he wanted people to know the vehicle was not acquired for that reason; rather it is intended to keep all that are involved safe in bad situations. Having it at a moment’s notice could save lives.
“Police militarization is a great concern of mine as well as the department’s,” Couch said. “But we need to be safe, we want the public to be safe and we want to be ready and not have to wait for other agencies to bring equipment. By then it might be to late.”
The GBPD received the vehicle from the Garden City Police Department. It is part of a federal program that police departments have to apply for through the State of Kansas. This program receives surplus vehicles from the military that are later used for civilian purposes.
“When an agency gets finished using one of these vehicles, other departments can apply to get the equipment for their use. But the department that is receiving the unit must be part of the federal program.” Couch said. “This is how we got the vehicle from Garden City Police.
According to Lt. Scott Harper, the vehicle does need some mechanical work before it can be service ready.
The vehicle has six seats that can hold a SWAT team and equipment. It features a rotating turret with a reinforced steel shield to keep the gunner safe. It also has firing ports on the sides and back doors, bulletproof glass, quarter-inch-thick steel armor and a heavy duty wench.