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Columbia Police Department unveils new armored vehicle

Thursday, October 24, 2013 | 7:13 p.m. CDT; updated 8:17 p.m. CDT, Thursday, October 24, 2013
The Columbia Police Department invited members of the media to view its new armored vehicle—the Lenco BearCat Special Purpose Vehicle — on Thursday at the police department's Training Center. The BearCat comes with restrictions, including the need for prior approval of the Tactical Commander before using it. In all cases outside of emergency circumstances, authorization for using the BearCat requires the approval of the Chief of Police or his designee and only SWAT members of the Columbia Police Department.

COLUMBIA — The Columbia Police Department deployed a new armored vehicle Thursday. The vehicle cost more than $227,000 and will be used for protection during high-risk operations.

The Lenco BearCat replaced the 32-year-old Cadillac Gage Peacekeeper as Columbia's protective vehicle. The BearCat arrived last Friday from Massachusetts and the vehicle is in service after today's finishing touches, such as applying decals and other details, said Sgt. Lance Bolinger of the SWAT team.

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The BearCat will be used with the SWAT team, which Bolinger said is called when there is high potential for an encounter with an armed subject.

"It (the vehicle) provides reliable ballistic protection for our officers, and that's the main feature of it," Bolinger said.

High-powered lights are included on top of the vehicle to help the police department light up the surrounding area. The front of the fully bulletproof vehicle is equipped with a hydraulic ram.

"It's a pretty interesting vehicle when you look at it," Bolinger said. "But if you strip off the lights, the paint, the decals and everything else, it looks very similar, in my opinion, to a Brink's armored vehicle. I say it's a Brink's vehicle on steroids."

Comparable police agencies throughout Missouri have similar vehicles, Bolinger said.

The Columbia City Council approved funding for the BearCat on April 1. Funding for the $227,587 acquisition consists of $127,587 from general funds, $63,495 from police autos to police trucks and $36,505 from asset forfeiture funds.

"Obviously when you think about the cost, it seems like a lot, but considering we got 32 years out of our last one and we're hoping to get 25 years out of this one, we're talking less than $10,000 a year," Bolinger said. "I think that is fairly reasonable given the protection it provides for our officers."

Supervising editor is Stephanie Ebbs.


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