JANESVILLE, Wis. - Law enforcement officials in Rock County have added an armored rescue vehicle to their arsenal.
It looks similar to the armored cars used during the search for the Boston marathon suspects. Rock County Sheriff Robert Spoden said calls for the SWAT Team have increased dramatically in the last five years. He also said that the department continues to encounter heavily armed subjects.
"The days of someone having a simple handgun have pretty much gone by the wayside," said Spoden.
For the last 10 months, the Rock County Sheriff's Office and the Janesville and Beloit police departments have been working on a solution to safely deploy and rescue officers during high-risk situations. The solution was to team up to buy an armored rescue vehicle -- a refurbished 2009 Lenco Bearcat.
"It's designed to stop most of the threats we would typically encounter. We don't talk about specific ballistic capabilities because that would make it an unsafe situation," said Capt. William Tyler of the Beloit Police Department.
It can hold 10-12 people. Spoden said while on the scene of a homicide in the town of Plymouth earlier this year, this vehicle would have been helpful.
"If we had had the Bearcat, it would have been far safer for us to put in our SWAT team. Doctors could have been there, and several other members who could've secured that area and gave aid to that victim," Spoden said.
At 18,000 pounds, this vehicle is pretty intimidating, and Tyler said it'll be used during some of their most dangerous situations.
"If they're barricaded in their home or business and they've got a weapon, typically a firearm, then you'll probably see this vehicle in and around the area," Tyler said.
Investigators used $195,000 seized from drug dealers to buy the truck and outfit it with the necessary technology. Though they hope never to have to use it, Spoden said they're fortunate to have this tool available.
"At the end of the day I think it's money well spent and hasn't cost the tax payers a single penny," Spoden said.
The vehicle is being kept in Beloit and will go into service next Friday. The sheriff said community members who'd like to see it should come to the county board meeting on Thursday, May 23, as it will be on display there.
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