Armoured car being bought by the Vancouver police - say its not for riot control....

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From The Globe and Mail

BEARCAT
Vancouver police to get armour on wheels

ANNA MEHLER PAPERNY

June 25, 2008

The Vancouver Police Department is beefing up its fleet, and the new machine's no puny gizmo: The city has approved $345,000 for an armoured rescue vehicle that will act as a mobile ballistic shield.

Inspector Tony Zanatta of the Vancouver police emergency response team says the armoured car will let officers go where they couldn't go safely before. They will be able to approach armed suspects with vehicles and barricaded in houses, deal with bomb scares and transport wounded people out of dangerous situations without fear of being shot.

"It's not a tank, it's a tool. It's simply that. It's a shield, it's a ballistic shield that's mobile," he said.

Some police forces in U.S. cities - including Los Angeles and New York - use Lenco "BearCat" armoured vehicles, one of the options Vancouver is considering.

bearcat.jpg

Critics fear the hulking trucks, versions of which are also used in active combat, would militarize the city streets and give police a tool for crowd control. Insp. Zanatta said this is not the case.

"That's sexy, but it's silly," he said. "Why would you do that? You don't move into a riot situation. That's not what the purpose of their deployment is."

The Vancouver Police Department's emergency response team deals with about 350 critical incidents a year. Insp. Zanatta said he estimates the police will use the vehicle 50 to 100 times a year.

"This isn't some fancy toy; this is pretty much, now, a standard piece of equipment for emergency response teams."

The police department decided it needed a vehicle like this a couple of years ago, and it has taken until recently to convince the city of its value, Insp. Zanatta said. He hopes to have the vehicle on the ground within a year.

City council approved the purchase last month. The Vancouver Police Foundation raised $250,000 of the cost.

The city and the police are still discussing the specifications for the armoured vehicle. They hope to decide on a manufacturer and place an order by late this summer.

The Calgary police rolled out their armoured vehicle, an Armet Balkan MK7, in March. Spokeswoman Emma Poole said officers have already used it on several occasions.

'BEARCAT'

-Thermal image camera*

-Remote-control spotlight

-Windows made of bulletproof, glass-clad polycarbonate

-Military specification steel armour plate

-Heavy duty winch

-Run-flat tires enable vehicle to drive about 80 km after tires have been punctured

-Underbody blast shield

-Carries up to 10 people, with room for more in emergencies

-Backup camera

-Gunports

-Swivel roof-top escape hatch doubles as a shield

*optional

Statistics

Top speed: 145 km/h

Weight: 7.7 tonnes

Six-litre diesel tank

355-horsepower engine

SOURCE: LENCO ARMOURED VEHICLES, VANCOUVER B.C.

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