The Price of Protection: ND's Armored "BearCats" - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

The Price of Protection: ND's Armored "BearCats"

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Steel armor. Bullet proof glass. Police sirens. There was a time when military style vehicles were used during combat, but times have changed. Armored vehicles have made way to your backyard, used by these trained officers known as the Red River Valley Swat Team.

"In order to do our job safely, we need vehicles to protect us," says Lt.. Ross Renner with the Red River Valley Swat Team. It's been about 3 years since this vehicle known as the Bearcat has called Fargo home. "It has no weapons attached to it but it can transport people to an environment that can be considered safe from gunfire," says Lt.. Renner. "But it does come with a pretty lofty price tag?" "It's a $250,000 vehicle that we received from a grant with the homeland security," says Lt.. Renner. But this is just one of the four in the state for a combined million dollar price tag.

"Was it really a necessity to pay $250,00 for a vehicle?" "Certainly. My question to you would be if your son or daughter was an officer and they were approaching someone with a rifle, don't we owe it to them to be protected," says Lt.. Renner.

And sure with these bullet proof doors and turret, the bear cat will protect. But in the past year alone, it's spent a majority of the time here in this garage in North Fargo.

"It's not about crime rate. It's about what could happen if you needed one of these today. It would be wrong to order it." Greg Wilz disperses grants received from the department of Homeland Security through out the state. "We put a system in place and had representatives in responder group look over stuff. We decided what needed to be purchased," says Wilz. They felt the money would be best spent on 4 bearcats. "Why do police need guns? Why do buildings need generators? We needed them and we needed them now," says Wilz.

 "Could tax payers money be used some place else? "We need it. Our issues are more complexed," says Lt.. Renner. Lt.. Renner says before this vehicle entered North Dakota, the swat team had nothing to protect themselves from armed suspects. Take this video for example, this was an incident on Amber Valley parkway in Fargo where a man was shooting a high powered rifle off his balcony.

"It may never be used and I am ok with it. It may never be shot at. But if we need it was there," says Lt.. Renner. "Will anyone ever shoot at it, maybe not. But if they do, it's one of the things that are priceless." Priceless. But not without value. Because if this saves one life, Lt.. Renner says it's worth more than a $250,000 price tag.

Since the September 11th attacks, the department of Homeland Security has handed out anti-terrorism grants, totaling $32 billion, with many departments buying vehicles like the Bearcat. Because as one officer put it...the world can be a dangerous place and you have to be ready.

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