The Free Press, Mankato, MN

September 26, 2013

Tactical team seeking new armored truck

The new BearCat could carry 10 officers

By Dan Linehan
The Mankato Free Press

---- — South-central Minnesota’s tactical law enforcement team is planning on purchasing a new armored truck and small remote controlled robot, at a cost of about $345,000.

The River Valley Tactical Team, comprised of six area law enforcement agencies, currently uses a 31-year-old model nicknamed “Peacekeeper,” said Paul Hagen, the team’s leader and a St. Peter police officer.

The Peacekeeper’s lack of reliability is among the reasons for its replacement.

“The last couple of times we’ve used it, we had problems keeping it running,” said Todd Miller, Mankato’s public safety director and a board member for the tactical team. “It’s not something you use a lot, but when you need it, you really need it.”

The tactical team responds to crisis situations that require special equipment and tactics, like a SWAT team. It would like to purchase a vehicle called the “BearCat,” an acronym for ballistic engineered armored response counter attack truck.

Hagen said the BearCat can carry 10 officers, compared to six for the current truck. The BearCat also offers better protection, more maneuverability as well as lighting and other equipment that wasn’t available decades ago.

While the vehicle carries no attached weapons, the tactical team is getting quotes on an onboard gas delivery system that would allow officers to remain inside.

The team also is seeking to purchase a small robot equipped with a camera and a claw. It will be able to ascend and descend stairs, move items and search areas.

The cost of the robot and vehicle would be evenly split among the tactical team’s six member agencies: the cities of Mankato, North Mankato, St. Peter along with the counties of Blue Earth, Nicollet and Le Sueur. The equipment will be ordered once all the member agencies approve the purchase, but the vehicle is custom made and takes about a year to build.

The vehicle would be stationed in St. Peter because of its central location.

Hagen said the current vehicle has been used more than 100 times over the past five years for training, callouts and public events.