When you think about it, nearly every piece of equipment a police department purchases is something they hope they never need to use. The latest piece of equipment the Portsmouth Police Department has acquired falls under that category in a big way. That piece of equipment is a behemoth Caiman Mine-resistant Armored Personnel Carrier.
“I have been looking at a way to get some kind of armored vehicle here for some time,” Portsmouth Police Chief Robert Ware said. “A vehicle that would protect officers getting to those active shooter scenes as well as a means of evacuation of people that are trapped in those situations.”
Ware cited two examples where that vehicle could have been utilized. One was the standoff several years ago on Argonne Road following a shooting at Notre Dame Elementary School, and the other was another standoff incident several months ago when a man fired a multitude of shots from his Hudson House apartment.
Ware said the general cost of armored vehicles through the Law Enforcement Purchasing Program are around $250,000 — something the city of Portsmouth cannot afford to do.
“At the same time I have been looking at a way to have some type of command vehicle so that we’re at these scenes that are in remote locations such as what the Drug Task Force might get in to,” Ware said. “And where we would have some kind of means where we have an indoor setting for command and control.”
Ware said the city became the beneficiary of such a vehicle when the military began to scale down from the two wars it has been involved in.
“They had these excess vehicles available for law enforcement,” Ware said. “And when the opportunity presented itself, that is a three-quarters-of-a-million dollar vehicle which we got just for the cost of transporting it here and for the cost of outfitting it for what we wanted to use it for.”
The total cost was $5,200 and Ware utilized funds from forfeiture money that the city received during major drug arrests to pay for it.
“It’s multi-purpose. It can be used for evacuation purposes, for the protection of entry teams - officers when they are going to an active shooter scene - a multitude of uses that we can use those for,” Ware said. “And with this particular one I can evacuate from buildings. I can put a response team in going to an active shooter scene. I can do the communications, command and control aspect.”
Ware said he has plans to paint it a non-militaristic color and to add things needed by his department.
“We have a vehicle on hand, eventually ready, to respond to our needs as opposed to us sitting here for three hours waiting for a response from one of the major metropolitan areas,” Ware said. “And from the regional perspective it would certainly be available to the smaller departments around here should the situation occur where they need some kind of multi-purpose vehicle for an evacuation or any kind of an emergency response that would require either a tactical vehicle or a vehicle capable of traveling through a natural disaster scene or anything a normal vehicle wouldn’t be appropriate for.”
Frank Lewis can be reached at 740-353-3101, Ext. 252, or on Twitter @FrankLewispdt.