Public Safety

New armored rescue vehicles to help Cedar Rapids area law enforcement handle hostage situations and active shooters

Two armored rescue vehicles such as this one are expected to arrive in the Cedar Rapids area in the coming months. (Courtesy city of Cedar Rapids)
Two armored rescue vehicles such as this one are expected to arrive in the Cedar Rapids area in the coming months. (Courtesy city of Cedar Rapids)

CEDAR RAPIDS — A quarter-million-dollar armored rescue vehicle, called a BearCat, could help area law enforcement remain safe and protect citizens during violent encounters such as hostage, active shooter or firefight situations, authorities said this week.

Cedar Rapids Police Department, through the city’s Fleet Service Division, was approved this week to spend $268,102 to purchase a 2019 Lenco BearCat G2 from Lenco Armored Vehicles, with delivery possibly by the end of the year.

Linn County Sheriff’s Office is expected to see delivery of its first BearCat in mid-July.

Linn County paid $297,000.

“When you look at what has happened not only nearby, but regionally and nationally ... this is almost becoming a necessity not a luxury,” said Linn County Sheriff Brian Gardner, noting a 2011 standoff in Keokuk in which an officer was killed by gunfire.

Gardner noted his office must develop a policy for when the vehicles would be deployed.

These would be the first of this type of vehicle in the area, Cedar Rapids Police Lt. Charlie Fields said this week.

“Right now we have no vehicle capable of taking sustained gunfire,” Fields said. “When we approach a target location as law enforcement officers, we are using the cover and concealment of neighboring houses, buildings, trees and cars. Some of those may be occupied or have civilians in the way.”

Instead, gunfire would be focused on the vehicle, ideally leaving civilians out of harm’s way, he said.

The Cedar Rapids vehicle would be paid for with asset forfeiture money “seized basically from our drug dealers,” and not the general fund, Police Chief Wayne Jerman said.

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The vehicle is designed specifically for law enforcement and is not a military vehicle, such as an MRAP, said Greg Buelow, public safety spokesman.

The BearCat is constructed of a converted four-wheel drive F‐550 truck chassis equipped with steel plating for ballistic protection and has a 12- to 15-year life span. It is designed to hold 10 to 12 fully armed officers.

The intent is to respond to hostage situations and barricaded armed subjects, and to serve high-risk search warrants.

The vehicle could help deliver emergency responders such as firefighters and EMTs through threat areas, safely evacuate wounded civilians from threat areas and rescue injured first responders.

“How do we get first responders other than law enforcement on scene and helping wounded people sooner to start saving lives?” Fields said. “While we do a good job on the response on the law enforcement side getting in there and stopping the threat, people are still dying from the wounds before we show up.”

• Comments: (319) 398-8310; brian.morelli@thegazette.com

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