Bearcat armored vehicle for region's law enforcement agencies arrives

2012-07-25T20:15:00Z 2013-03-12T17:35:58Z Bearcat armored vehicle for region's law enforcement agencies arrivesBy Barbara LaBoe / The Daily News Longview Daily News
July 25, 2012 8:15 pm  • 

The region's new armored "Bearcat" vehicle has arrived — and it's hard to miss.

The large, fortified vehicle, complete with a gun turret and bullet-resistant windows, arrived earlier this month after Cowlitz County purchased it with federal Homeland Security dollars.

It will be used by SWAT teams throughout the region to handle potentially deadly situations. In what officials call a fluke, though, the Lenco Bearcat 4 already has been used to pull over a suspected drunk driver.

Cowlitz County Chief Criminal Deputy Charlie Rosenzweig was training in the vehicle when a call came out about a suspected drunk driver involved in a hit and run. Rosenzweig was the only officer in the area and spotted what looked like the suspect vehicle. So he turned on the Bearcat's lights and sirens and pulled the vehicle over.

It turned out not to be the truck officers were looking for, but the driver's and passenger's eyes certainly got big when they saw what he'd pulled them over in, Rosenzweig said with a chuckle Wednesday.

Officials don't expect any similar calls because the Bearcat won't be used for regular patrols. It will be deployed when Lower Columbia SWAT officers respond to dangerous situations. It will be licensed and titled to Cowlitz County but will serve as a regional vehicle, available to law enforcement in Cowlitz, Clark, Wahkiakum and Skamania counties. It will be based here.

The Bearcat is larger than a Hum-vee armored vehicle — it weighs about 20,000 pounds — and can carry about 12 officers comfortably, more in a pinch. Gun ports with closed hatches line the sides to allow officers to fire without putting themselves at risk. The gun turret includes a shield between officers and any potential threat. However, officials don't want to discuss many of the vehicle's features for security reasons.

Officials said the $244,000 vehicle is designed to increase safety for both officers and residents.

"The whole thing is about keeping officers safe," said Cowlitz County Sheriff Mark Nelson. "This gives us something to approach a dangerous, volatile situation in that's more than just a patrol car."

"We can get closer and be safer," added Rosenzweig who travelled with Deputy Brad Bauman to Boston to be trained on the Bearcat. "And it should let us handle situations more quickly, which increases everyone's safety."

Wahkiakum County Sheriff Jon Dearmore said he's thrilled to have the vehicle as a resource.

"It's a huge benefit to us," Dearmore said. The vehicle would have been invaluable during a recent call of a man barricaded in his rural home with several weapons. Officers were able to talk the man into surrendering, but given the terrain and other nearby homes the armored vehicle would have been ideal to approach the house, he said.

Nelson and Dearmore said they'd both like to never have to use the Bearcat, but they know that's not realistic.

"We're in wicked times, and you want top-notch tools," Dearmore said.

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(13) Comments

  1. AuroraBorealis
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    AuroraBorealis - July 26, 2012 9:26 am
    Gee, they need so many more tools to keep them safe. Don't get me wrong - I love law enforcement generally, but we're going waaaaay too far into military style policing these days.
  2. Tyler
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    Tyler - July 26, 2012 12:02 pm
    How many times in the last, say, five years, would this ARMORED! vehicle have benefitted law enforcement, more importantly, benefitted the citizenry. Without examples, this looks like waste and just another toy for law enforcement. I guess we can now look forward to the Bearcat rolling ahead of a troupe of SWAT officers so that an army of officers are better able to overwhelm. A gun turret? Really? This is not only alarming relative to our growing police state, it's embarrassing and a waste.
  3. Keepinginformed
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    Keepinginformed - July 26, 2012 5:51 pm
    This is just another attempt of that Barney Fife we call Sheriff Mark nelson to make himself look more important then he actually is... when is he up for reelection ???? ummm 2013???? Can not wait to get that wasteful person out of office....Everyone remember this when you mark your ballot for anyone else but Mark Nelson
  4. MrReality
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    MrReality - July 27, 2012 9:23 am
    You guys are ridiculous! First of all if you read the article, this was provided by the Feds. It was a grant. How can you say you like cops "generally" but don't want them to have a bullet proof vehicle for the SWAT team to respond to calls in. You people all complain about "police state" and then scream and cry for help when the madman comes into the theater or your child's school. From reading the paper the SWAT team could have used this vehicle alot over the last four years.
  5. MrReality
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    MrReality - July 27, 2012 9:27 am
    Plus, the old amored truck they had was a standard hi way truck. Without 4x4 it couldn't make it up any of the crazy county roads and driveways around here. So if you think it is unnecessary to have this vehicle, then handle your own problems and don't call 911.
  6. porsadgai
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    porsadgai - July 27, 2012 11:31 am
    "Provided by the Feds", eh? Free money! Yahoo! Let's militarize the local, domestic police. There's such threats around the area that it's the only way. According to "Mr.(un)Reality's" reasoning it's a choice between a ridiculously over armed, militarized police state, or NO law enforcement whatsoever.
  7. Keepinginformed
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    Keepinginformed - July 27, 2012 5:46 pm
    There is a right way to enforce the law and a wrong way, unfortunately Duscha and nelson forget how the right way is... and trust me Mr what ever your name is; until they learn how to do it the RIGHT way, I dont need them
  8. electriczipper
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    electriczipper - July 28, 2012 2:32 am
    Remember this is provided by feds run by liberal progressives who are separating the leadership of each branch of the armed services by removing them from the pentagon to be replaced by ? They signed legislation that removed the regs from the banks that's killing the world economy. If we riot alot because of the ruined "by them" economy what would stop them from declaring martial law, and suspending the constitution? I'm not saying this will happen, but the right ducks appear to be lining up.:)
  9. electriczipper
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    electriczipper - July 28, 2012 3:01 am
    They stopped the keystone pipeline for"environmental reasons". Which has the (planed?) benefit of keeping energy prices up to where alternative energy sources start to look affordable while we suffer with the high price of energy. All this while they pursue the U.N. backdoor to get at our guns. Their is a cost for freedom, but it's nothing compared to the cost of "Gun Control", 56 Mill to maybe more than 170 mill exterminated in the 20th century alone, by governments that have "Gun Control".
  10. electriczipper
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    electriczipper - July 28, 2012 3:07 am
    What does all my rambling have to do with the Bearcat? I don't know, I just thought that maybe I might have heard something quack :) ;).
  11. electriczipper
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    electriczipper - July 28, 2012 3:46 pm
    Honestly though I do see the bearcat as a useful tool to have if a situation arises that truly warrants the use of it, and in todays world who knows. I just hope it's never misused so that our local authorities never get a bad rep like Seattle's.
  12. scratch007
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    scratch007 - July 30, 2012 1:54 pm
    Bearcat = one less thing to be good at. Another reason for more overweight lazy police.
  13. PS Paul
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    PS Paul - July 31, 2012 1:41 pm
    Be prepared to see lots of these on the road and in the field when the EPA and enviro-wackos types start patrolling YOUR property to make sure there are no "environmental" laws being broken! Also, military units were dispersed in the wake of hurricane Katrina to "disarm" citizens because our govt. does not trust citizens with their own weapons in time of disaster.
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