Public Safety

Armored vehicle joins Linn County Sheriff's Office arsenal

Kat Russell | The Gazette

Linn County Sheriff’s Office’s new Bearcat armored vehicle sits outside the sheriff’s office garage on Thursday morning at, 310 Second Ave. SW, Cedar Rapids. The $297,061 vehicle was purchased last month for the sheriff’s tactical team using money that had been seized in connection with illegal activity.
Kat Russell | The Gazette Linn County Sheriff’s Office’s new Bearcat armored vehicle sits outside the sheriff’s office garage on Thursday morning at, 310 Second Ave. SW, Cedar Rapids. The $297,061 vehicle was purchased last month for the sheriff’s tactical team using money that had been seized in connection with illegal activity.
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CEDAR RAPIDS — The Linn County Sheriff’s Office wants to be sure it’s ready should an active shooter situation happen here.

That’s why the sheriff’s office recently bought a Bearcat armored, tactical response vehicle for its Immediate Response Unit. The vehicle cost $297,061, which was paid for using money the sheriff’s office has seized in connection with illegal activities.

The vehicle is a diesel-powered, 4-wheel drive, 10-passenger, armored rescue vehicle. It was built to provide blast and ballistic protection that can withstand a round from a .50-caliber Browning machine gun. However, unlike military armored vehicles, the Bearcat is not equipped with weaponry.


The vehicle was built using a commercial Ford F-550 truck chassis as a platform, so it is readily serviceable.

The Bearcat is equipped with a roof-mounted nozzle that can hook directly to a main water line or fire engine for continuous water flow, enabling the vehicle to be used for fire suppression when firefighters are unable safely access a fire scene and tactical deployment is necessary.

“You may ask why we need a vehicle like this,” Sheriff Brian Gardner said Thursday. “But there have been occasions where an individual has set fire to a house or building and barricaded himself inside and shot at first responders as they approached. In that situation, this vehicle could drive right up and extinguish the fire while keeping officers and fire personnel safe.”

Weighing in at roughly 9 tons, the Bearcat can take first responders into areas where they might be subject to gunfire, Gardner said. It can be used to rescue others who are injured or trapped in the line of fire and transport them to safety.

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Since the vehicle’s acquisition last month, personnel have undergone three days of hands-on training on the proper use of the Bearcat.

Officers from the Cedar Rapids Police Department and other departments were invited to participate, said Lt. Matt Pavelka, team leader of the Immediate Response Unit.

Gardner said the sheriff’s office will use the Bearcat anytime there is a potential for “armed subject encounters,” including active shooter situations, barricaded armed subjects, high-risk search warrant executions, or at the request of fire departments.

“The public is used to seeing law enforcement personnel wearing ballistic body armor on a daily basis and carrying ballistic shields during tactical situations,” Gardner said. “The Bearcat is merely an extension of that armor; it provides complete protection that surrounds its occupants. Having that protection provides increased safety for first responders and enhances our response capabilities.”

In a time when mass shootings and active shooter situations have increased in frequency, Maj. Doug Rinker, commander of the Immediate Response Unit said it is the sheriff’s office’s responsibility to assess its response capabilities and adjust accordingly.

“We are constantly looking at and re-evaluating our response capabilities in order to safeguard our officers and the public,” he said. “And with active shooter and mass shooting situations happening more frequently, we need to make sure we are equipped and able to respond to the best of our ability.”

• Comments: (319) 398-8238; kat.russell@thegazette.com

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