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Thursday, June 19, 2014

Hey we joined the club - Cheyenne police get armored vehicle - An MRAP made to survive IED blasts can be used in extreme weather, dangerous situations, says an officer.


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http://www.wyomingnews.com/articles/2014/06/19/news/01top_06-19-14.txt#.U6ONoCxOWM8

An MRAP made to survive IED blasts can be used in extreme weather, dangerous situations, says an officer.




CHEYENNE - As America's overseas wars have wound down, much of the military equipment used there has come home.

But rather than sit unused, it is going to law enforcement agencies across the country, including right here in Laramie County.

While the scope of police work in Wyoming is different from that of Iraq or Afghanistan, law agencies say they have found value in surplus military equipment like weapons, armor and vehicles.

Even small departments have benefitted. The sheriff's departments in Washakie, Big Horn and Hot Springs counties in north-central Wyoming made headlines last year when they got an MRAP for their Joint Tactical Emergency Response Team.

Short for Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle, MRAP weighs nearly 14 tons and is built to survive a blast from an improvised explosive device.

The Cheyenne Police Department got its own MRAP last month, and the Laramie County Sheriff's Department is on a waiting list for another.

Given the general lack of IEDs in Wyoming, such an acquisition might seem like overkill for a local police force. But officials say such vehicles can provide protection to officers dealing with high-risk events.

"We haven't used ours for anything yet, but we're looking at using it for our SWAT team," said Officer Dan Long at the Cheyenne Police. "Both our SWAT and (explosive ordinance disposal) teams can use it to help serve the community and other law enforcement agencies in the region."

Long recalled a recent case in which the department was called to aid a nearby sheriff's department. A suspect had barricaded himself in a house with a rifle.

Long said the department had to turn that request down, but with its MRAP, it now can help in such cases.

"Our armored vehicle couldn't stop rifle rounds, whereas this new vehicle does," Long said. "We can also use it for rescue purposes during events like blizzards and flooding. (It) has a high profile and run-flat tires, so it can drive through all that stuff."

Gerry Luce with the sheriff's department said his agency wants an MRAP for many of the same reasons. He said such vehicles come free of cost from the military, so law agencies are able to improve public safety while saving money.

"An MRAP, if a law enforcement agency were to purchase something like that, you're looking at $300,000 plus," Luce said. "But if we were selected to pick up a surplus MRAP today, we'd go down to Fort Carson (in Colorado) and pick it up. The sole cost would be the cost of driving it back."

Luce said local law enforcement agencies acquire surplus military equipment through the state surplus property division. That agency coordinates with the federal Defense Logistics Agency's Law Enforcement Support Office.

Law enforcement agencies must justify why they want a piece of equipment, Luce added.

"We try to focus on stuff that is viable and can be utilized effectively and efficiently by the organization in one capacity for another," he added.

That said, neither the Cheyenne Police nor the sheriff's department has relied heavily on military surplus. One reason for that, Luce said, is that much of the equipment available, such as automatic weapons or aircraft, doesn't really fit into the department's operational philosophy.

He said even some surplus vehicles that could be useful have been passed up due to high maintenance costs or other related expenses.

In fact, aside from its interest in an MRAP, the only other military equipment the sheriff's department has are some M14 rifles, night vision goggles and a few Vietnam-era flak vests.

"Things like night vision goggles we've used for surveillance," he said. "And the rifles we acquired for our resident deputies so they had a high-powered rifle for instances when they may have needed to put down an injured animal, something like that.

"Overall, it's a very, very small percentage (of the department's equipment)."
Published on: Wednesday, Jun 18, 2014 - 11:36:54 pm MDT

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