By Andreas Butler
For Hometown News
DAYTONA BEACH - The Police Department will be getting a new armored vehicle after the City Commission approved the purchase at its Oct. 17 regular meeting.
The vehicle will be used by the department's Special Weapons and Tactics team (SWAT).
The police say the vehicle is a much needed upgrade over its current existing vehicle.
"Our current vehicle was purchased in 1982. The technology as well as the equipment is outdated and obsolete," Police Chief Michael Chitwood said.
The vehicle will be a Bear Cat built by Lecanto Armored Vehicles located in Pittsfield, Mass.
Lecanto makes such vehicles for the government, military, law enforcement and security firms.
The Bear Cat is in use with military and law enforcement around the world, including Australia, Morocco, Canada, the Netherlands and the United States.
There also are several variants of the vehicle, including the LE version for law enforcement, which the police department will be getting.
The Bear Cat also has a scoop feature, which allows it to scoop up an individual who has been knocked unconscious or has to be removed from a structure.
It can stop small arms fire and has been known to stop rounds from rifles, such as the AK-47.
The vehicle will come with a hefty price tag of $219,000, but not at a cost to the public.
"We are making the purchase with funds being used from our drug forfeiture fund. That means that no taxpayer's dollars are being used," Chitwood said.
Federal law allows funds for drug forfeiture funds to be used to purchase equipment and training.
Statistics show violent crimes, as well as crime in general, are down in Daytona, but the police say the vehicle is still a big need for its crime fighting purposes.
"Just look at all the shooting incidents that have occurred, not only in Florida, but the entire country," Chitwood said. "The hope is that you always have the most up-to-date equipment to meet any threat, the most updated and realistic training and hope to God that you never use it."
The police also say such a vehicle could save the lives of both officers and civilians during raids and hostage situations.
"That's another advantage of such a vehicle. God forbid police officers or civilians are wounded or pinned down by gunfire," Chitwood said.