Fire and Police Commission approves acquisition of armored vehicle
By Adam Hocking
MARSHFIELD — The city’s Fire and Police Commission voted 3-0 to approve the acquisition of an armored vehicle on Thursday.
Marshfield Police Chief Rick Gramza described the vehicle as “a military surplus vehicle, which would be civilianized.” The vehicle will have no initial cost to acquire, said Marshfield Police Department detective Kevin Hamill. The cost to the city will be that of shipping, which Hamill said would be just over $2,000 according to estimates he has received, and upkeep of the vehicle. Hamill said that in his research and talking with other departments who have similar vehicles, yearly maintenance costs would likely not exceed $500.
The police department is able to acquire the vehicle at no initial cost through the 1033 program, which Hamill described as a “military surplus equipment program. It allows local governments to obtain excess military equipment at a very small cost.”
The 1033 program has nearly 1,000 armored vehicles that it will distribute to law enforcement agencies across the country, Hamill said. The Marshfield Police Department is 231st on that list, and Gramza said the vehicle could be in Marshfield by the end of March or early April this year. Hamill said the vehicle would be shipped from the Red River Army Base in Texarkana, Texas.
The police department pays $150 annually to participate in the 1033 program, Hamill said.
Hamill said the military places a value of over $600,000 on these types of vehicles when new. Both Hamill and Gramza stressed that the vehicle would be used in emergencies to protect citizens.
“This is not an assault vehicle. This is a rescue vehicle. This is a vehicle that would be able to extract people who are barricaded in their residences because of a situation,” Gramza said. “This is a vehicle that could act as a shield if there was active fire happening upon citizens or law enforcement officers. This vehicle stops rifle rounds.”
Gramza added that in the discussion of needs versus wants, this vehicle falls in the category of necessity.
“When we need it, we don’t want to want it. We don’t want it to be an hour away,” Gramza said.
“I look at this as an insurance policy for the community,” Gramza said. Because the department is able to acquire the vehicle through a grant program that mitigates cost, Gramza said it would be “irresponsible” for him to not attempt to acquire it.
Hamill noted that the vehicle is equipped to handle severe weather with “36 inches of clearance” and four-wheel drive. He added that the vehicle could be used to assist the Marshfield Fire and Rescue Department in emergencies.
“From our perspective, whether it might be in our community or a neighboring community that might have a disaster-type situation, … this would be a vehicle that would be able to go into locations that you’re not going to be able to get an ambulance into, you’re not going to be able to get a squad car into,” Hamill said.
Hamill said both Mid-State Truck and V & H Trucks said they can service the vehicle. Where it might be stored will depend on the exact model of the vehicle the department receives, Hamill said. He said the armored vehicle is smaller than city ambulances and snow plows.
Two commissioners, Terry Frankland and Nate Mueller, were not present for the vote. The acquisition of the vehicle does not require common council approval.