Armored vehicle purchase approved by NV County supervisors

Marianne Boll / The Union
The purchase of a Bearcat armored vehicle, similar to the Placer County Sheriff’s Office Bearcat vehicle shown, was approved by the Nevada County Board of Supervisors.

TRUCKEE, Calif. — The Nevada County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved purchasing a purpose-built armored vehicle known as a Bearcat, from Lenco Armored Vehicles in Massachusetts, in the amount of $376,000.

“The Bearcat should be delivered in 9 to 12 months and at that time the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle will be returned,“ said Lt. Bob Jacobs from the Nevada County Sheriff’s Office.

In 2014 the MRAP was purchased from the federal government under a program that allows law enforcement agencies to obtain excess property from the Department of Defense. The Sheriff’s Office discussed the disadvantages of the MRAP including its excessive weight, rollover concerns, and complicated commercial driver’s license requirement. Only one officer could operate the vehicle, adding to its impracticality.

“Why did we buy it in the first place?” Supervisor Dan Miller asked.

“I told you,” Heidi Hall, District I Supervisor said. Hall’s concerns in the past that the MRAP would “tear up roads” and appear “inappropriate” for the needs of the community were recalled.

The intention of the new Bearcat was discussed by Jacobs. He said the Bearcat is an effective tool in keeping officers safe in “hot zones such as an active shooter,” Jacobs said. “It is a de-escalating tool that can be used for decreasing distance and gathering intelligence, such as in making safe contact during negotiations.”

Jacobs was careful to note that the Bearcat is “only for the most judicious use.” There are requirements on how it will be used. “The Bearcat does not contain any offensive equipment. The intent is that it slows things down when officers arrive at a scene in crisis.”

“I want it to be intimidating,” Miller added during a discussion of how the Bearcat would be implemented.

Concerns were raised by board member Ed Scofield over the price of the vehicle and why it was not mentioned in earlier budgets.

“I don’t remember this was discussed during budget process,” Scofield said. The reply was that it could have been overlooked.

The Bearcat will be part of community events such as career days at local high schools and county fairs. District 5 Supervisors Hardy Bullock, commented that explaining the intended use of the Bearcat and its specific uses, “will create that community connection.”

“Any time we can keep [officers] safe while keeping the community safe — this is a priority,” Board Chair Susan Hoek.

The item was unanimously approved.

To contact Staff Writer Marianne Boll email, or call 530-477-4256.

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