Columbia Police Department wants new armored vehicle to increase safety
Armored personell carrier is a controversial purchase
The Columbia Police Department wants to make an expensive purchase to increase safety; however some people question whether it's necessary. CPD said it needs to buy a new Armored personnel Carrier to be used in highly dangerous situations.
Officers said the truck they currently use is too run down. It is 30 years old and has caused the department some serious trouble. Over the last few years, when they needed to use it, the truck either didn't make it to the scene or had to be frequently towed away.
"It's a safety truck, it's to protect people, that's the primary purpose of this is to protect both citizens and police officers," said Cpt. Brad Nelson, who is the CPD SWAT team commander. He said now they're the ones in need of help and are asking to be approved for the new equipment.
"We need an APC for our SWAT team, we really do," said Nelson.
The armored truck would not be used often. Officers told ABC 17 News it would only be taken out in the most dangerous cases, like finding violent criminals and hostage situations.
"They are designed to save lives, to protect officers and citizens from gunshots," said Nelson.
A new truck will cost more than $227,000. Around half of the money will be coming from the city, but it's not yet approved.
"We put it off for two weeks just so we could get a little more information, I think all of us are interested in how often this type of equipment is used and interested in the circumstances of which it will be used," said Columbia Mayor Bob McDavid.
Some council members questioned if the money could be better spent on hiring new officers, or if the military-style truck is necessary for civilian officers.
"Armored personnel carrier implies a militaristic vehicle with armor, its really not... It's a car with shielding to protect of the officers," said McDavid.
But what about the truck CPD already has? Nelson said it has serious engine and transmission issues that would cost more than $35,000 to fix.
"Had instances where we got it working, drove it to the scene and had to tow it away from the scene, which is slightly embarrassing," said Nelson.
Over the last five years, the truck has broken down when needed 27 different times. Now the council is left to make a decision, but the mayor insists whatever the outcome, safety is the top priority.
"It's our responsibility to protect our police officers," said McDavid.
CPD has had the old armored truck for 12 years, and bought it used. A new truck would last 20 to 25 years, but would end up costing around $10,000 a year when the total price was divided.
In order to fund the truck it would take around $36,000 from forfeiture funds, around $127,000 from the city's general fund, and finally around $63,000 from the police department itself.
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