Davis County has heavily armored tactical vehicle

Posted at 10:14 PM, Mar 10, 2013
and last updated 2013-03-11 00:10:41-04

DAVIS COUNTY, Utah --The Davis County Sheriff’s Office has a new four-wheeled enforcement tool out on the streets.

The BearCat is a black, tactical armored security vehicle. The vehicle is 8 feet tall, 8 feet wide and almost 19 feet long. It weighs 19,500 pounds—before any fuel is put into it.

Capt. Arnold Butcher, Davis County Sheriff’s Office, said the vehicle has a powerful presence.

“"Initially it is very intimidating, and obviously it’s a very large vehicle," he said.

Butcher said the Bear Cat’s size helps provide officials with the protection they need, and it is also useful as a hazardous rescue vehicle.

“"It's invaluable because it's not just for law enforcement,” he said. “Search and rescue has the ability to utilize this, fire agencies, EMS [emergency medical services] agencies. If we had a natural disaster, this vehicle is designed to be able get personnel and equipment into areas where traditional vehicles wouldn't be able to go, and/or rescue people, personnel, responders or anything back out of those areas."

The vehicle has been used by law enforcement agencies to help with arrests, bomb threats and standoffs in the 19 months since it was acquired.

It was most recently involved in a police standoff that came after a bank robber led police on a three-county high-speed chase that ended in a fatal shooting.

"We used it to actually perform a pit maneuver, something that most all of your law enforcement officers are taught to do,” he said. “In this situation the individual that they were pursuing had a weapon and had been reportedly pointing that at the officers, so it was unsafe for them to do so in their normal patrol vehicles with the threat of possibly getting shot at."

The vehicle is built on a Ford F-550 with just a cab, but Butcher said it has been heavily modified.

“About the only thing left original on it at that point was the dashboard and the steering wheel,” he said.

The truck is fully equipped with half-inch military specification steel and bullet proof windows designed to withstand explosive blasts and 50 caliber bullets. It can seat 10 people. It has 11 gun ports around the vehicle. The tires are designed for difficult terrain, and it can keep driving even if a tire is punctured.

The vehicle is also big and powerful enough to knock over or remove large objects.

“If people were trapped inside of a room or something, and they couldn't escape out of the door or window, we could actually hook onto a wall and pull open an opening in the wall, and you'd be able to rescue those people out of an area like that," Butcher said.

Butcher said the vehicle is very maneuverable but only has top speed of 70 mph. Funding for the vehicle came from Homeland Security. Davis County was the first in Utah to obtain a BearCat, but the Unified Police Department in Salt Lake County recently acquired one as well.