County uses its armored vehicle for first time in recent SWAT situation
Residents of Grand County got a bit of a surprise last week when Grand County’s Emergency Response Team was called to a situation on Red Dirt Hill.
The incident was, for many citizens who were stopped on Highway 40 during the police action, the first time they had seen the local SWAT team’s armored personnel carrier, which the county acquired last spring.
The vehicle, which is a 1970s model of a popular light armored vehicle called a Peacekeeper, is formally the property of the Grand County Sheriff’s Office and was acquired from the Alamosa Police Department early last year.
The Peacekeeper is covered in armor plating and has bullet resistant tires and glass.
“It is an unattractive thing,” Lt. Dan Mayer of the Grand County Sheriff’s Office said with a light laugh. “It is definitely not built for looks. But it is very functional and runs well. It serves a purpose for the rare occasions when needed.”
Last week’s police action on Red Dirt Hill was the first time the Peacekeeper had been used outside of training since it was acquired by the county.
The vehicle is specifically designated for use by the Emergency Response Team with an eye towards possible hostage situations, or active shooter scenarios when law enforcement would be looking to extract wounded individuals.
“If we have an officer down in an active shooter situation, we can get in, get the person loaded up and get out of there,” Mayer explained. “We have had it for several months; we just haven’t had any reason to use it.”
The Peacekeeper could also be used in situations involving explosives or bombs, though Mayer acknowledged the vehicle is not designed to withstand serious blasts.
“It is primarily for small arms,” he said.
But if needed to get close to a bomb and avoid a blast, Mayer said it could be used for that.
The Peacekeeper was obtained from the vehicle’s previous owners, the Alamosa Police Department, after that department obtained a larger armored vehicle, called an MRAP, from the federal government. Grand County was able to take possession of the Peacekeeper at no charge, though the department had to handle shipping the vehicle from the San Luis Valley to Hot Sulphur Springs.
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