Portland police get new military grade armored vehicle

Portland Police Chief Michael Sauschuck announced the delivery today of a state-of-the-art armored rescue vehicle, a Lenco BearCat. If the zombie apocalypse hits Portland anytime soon, I would not want to be the zombies.

This thing has thermal imaging capability, as well as chemical, biological, radioactive and explosive detection system, according to a city announcement.

This beast replaces a 1981 military surplus vehicle the department had been using, but increasingly found to be obsolete. The technology used in the old Peacekeeper personnel carrier had been surpassed by advancements in street-level arms — the city announcement states that the Peacekeeper’s “armor plating … does not provide adequate protection against weapons and ammunition now available to the public.”

So, in simple terms, you as a common bystander can now go buy weapons powerful enough to take down what just a few decades ago was a solid U.S. armored military vehicle. I’m not sure if that makes me feel more or less safe.

Anyway, the Portland police have something better now, funded by a $270,000 Federal Emergency Management Agency Port Security Grant. Here’s Chief Sauschuck’s statement on the matter:

When responding to high-risk situations it is absolutely critical and potentially life-saving that we have the best and safest equipment available for both our officers and members of the public. Thanks to FEMA, the Portland Police Department has a vehicle that can do just that.

Here’s a little bit more from the city’s announcement of the vehicle’s delivery describing how nationwide — and locally — armored vehicles like this have been used in the field (Because you’re probably sitting there wondering ‘What do we need one of those for?’):

Only the second such vehicle in the state, the Bearcat will be utilized during hostage, barricaded person, or active shooter situations.  The vehicle can also be used to safely transport officers into a hot zone or to evacuate citizens from an area. The 1999 Columbine shooting demonstrated a need for such vehicles as the local police department used fire trucks to approach and evacuate injured students from the school. In 1997, heavily out-gunned LAPD officers commandeered a privately owned armored cash delivery truck to rescue trapped officers and civilians during the North Hollywood shootout. Similarly, in Portland, the Police Department’s Special Reaction Team used the Peacekeeper extensively during the 13-hour Washburn Avenue standoff and the more recent five-hour Cedar Street incident to safely evacuate citizens from the area. In keeping with the intent of the Port Security Grant, the Portland Police Department will utilize the vehicle for appropriate mutual aid responses in surrounding communities.

Seth Koenig

About Seth Koenig

Seth has nearly a decade of professional journalism experience and writes about the greater Portland region.