Last summer, when officials from the Owensboro, Ky., Police Department applied to receive two Humvees through a military equipment surplus program, OPD officials said they wanted the vehicles to help officers respond during emergencies and natural disasters.
While the city hasn't experienced a bona fide disaster since receiving the vehicles this winter, the Humvees have already come in handy, such as when they were used by officers during recent snow and ice storms.
The Humvees were free to OPD, through the Army's Law Enforcement Support Office. Sgt. J.D. Winkler said the military loans equipment such as Humvees to law enforcement agencies with the understanding that the agencies will return the equipment when they are finished with it.
"The best part is it didn't cost the city anything," Winkler said. If the vehicles had been purchased new, they would have cost about $70,000 each, he said.
"We have to be careful with the equipment we purchase," Winkler said. "That's why this is such a bonus -- because we get it for free."
The Army had declared the Humvees surplus. "It gets destroyed if we don't get it," Winkler said. "We keep it for as long as we need it."
The idea was, if a natural disaster strikes, officers will be able to use the Humvees to transport essential emergency personnel to work, Winkler said.
The vehicles will also be used for more than disasters and storms. One of the Humvees will be available to the department's emergency response team, while the second will be painted to match a department patrol vehicle, Winkler said.
"It will be something the public can see and something we can use during inclement weather," Winkler said.
Sgt. Richard Glenn said the Humvee will be painted in OPD colors by the Owensboro Community & Technical College's collision repair class.
The paint will be purchased for less than the retail cost. "We were afraid to price a (commercial) paint job," Glenn said.
Winkler said he regularly checks the Law Enforcement Support Office website for other equipment officers could use.
"We're in the process of looking for an armored vehicle, something we can use in an active shooting situation or a citizen rescue," Winkler said.