by Pam Zubeck
In what some might see as the steady march toward the militarization of civilian police departments, the south central all-hazards region of Colorado is acquiring a $208,000 armored vehicle from Pittsfield, Mass.-based Lenco Armored Vehicles.
The vehicle will be based with the Colorado Springs Police Department, along with a similar but heavier version that cost about $260,000 acquired in 2005 and based with the El Paso County Sheriff's Office. Teller County also has a BearCat purchased several years ago.
All three vehicles, which are available for use within the region, were funded with federal Department of Homeland Security money. No local matching funds were required. The region includes El Paso, Teller, Chaffee, Lake and Park counties.
Police Lt. Sal Fiorillo says in an interview that his SWAT team is eagerly awaiting delivery of the vehicle in September or October. He says the city has borrowed the county's vehicle for high-risk search warrant executions, barricaded subjects and hostage situations. The vehicle also can be used for bomb-squad callouts, Fiorillo says.
The county's 30,000-pounder, ideal for rural use where officers need cover up to a mile from a house, is heavier than necessary for urban use, Fiorillo says.
"It's an armored rescue vehicle," he says. "In that particular case, if we're going to attempt to apprehend a violent subject, we're going to use that vehicle. If somebody goes down or shots are fired, we can get that vehicle right in there and effect a rescue. It would provide cover."
The Springs' SWAT team is the only full-time squad south of Douglas County in Colorado, he says, and runs 140 to 150 missions per year.
"Most SWAT teams that respond to half that number have some sort of armored vehicle," Fiorillo says, noting the BearCat will be the city's first. "It's going to be another tool for us. It's something we've needed for a long time."
Here's a description of the company from its website:
Lenco Armored Vehicles is the leading designer and manufacturer of armored police vehicles for Law Enforcement Agencies and State Police & Sheriff's Department SWAT teams. Lenco also manufactures armored military vehicles for International Police Forces, the US Army, US Navy, US Air Force and US Marines. We are also a supplier to the US Department of Defense, Department of State, Department of Energy, FBI and other high profile Government Agencies.
Since 1981 Lenco has produced nearly 5,000 vehicles in over 40 countries around the world. Our tactical, armored response and rescue vehicles have driven into the Kill Zone and have defeated high caliber assault weapons, mortar frag, grenades and IED attack. Lenco's line of tactical SWAT, M-ATV and MRAP vehicles are used for National Defense, Counter Terrorism and Homeland Security, as well as Private Security Details in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The other bids for the vehicle came from Streit Manufacturing, $278,300; Armored Solutions, $229,000, and Armored Group, $224,950.