Calif. cops hope to use grant to buy armored vehicle

The vehicle would be shared by SWAT teams and is expected to cost about $230,000

By Greg Welter
The Oroville Mercury Register

BUTTE COUNTY, Calif. — If money from a 2011 federal Homeland Security grant is ever forwarded to Butte County from the state, most of it will be used to purchase a tactical armored vehicle, Chico Police Chief Mike Maloney recently announced.

The vehicle would be shared by SWAT teams from the Butte County Sheriff's Office and Chico, and be available for incidents throughout the county.

The vehicle is expected to cost about $230,000 but could vary depending on the features it includes, Maloney said .

It will likely include a turret gun port at the top, a battering ram, running boards and tires that will allow the vehicle to keep traveling if they go flat, he said.

It hasn't been determined if it will have a hatch entry at the top, as well as doors, officials said.

Specifications for the armor plating are pending.

Approval for the purchase came after several years of homeland security funding being spent on other items, largely for fire and rescue equipment and emergency communications in the county, Maloney said.

Homeland security money is directed by a group Maloney referred to as "the Big 5."

It includes representatives from the Butte County Sheriff's Office, a municipal fire department, a municipal police department, the Butte County Health Department and the Butte County Office of Emergency Services.

This is the second year in a row that law enforcement agencies pushed for the purchase of an armored vehicle, Maloney said.

The vehicle will probably be deployed to virtually every incident in the county where there is a potential for an armed standoff or where police officers face extreme hazards, said Chico Police Sgt. Rob Merifield.

The vehicle will be based in Chico and maintained by Chico city crews, Maloney said. It is intended for the fast tactical deployment of a small group, and may only hold up to three or four personnel.

Maloney said he had no guess as to when a vehicle might be ordered and received. Once specifications are identified, it will go out for bid.

Officials think the armored vehicle will meet needs not currently served by vehicles at the disposal of law enforcement in Butte County.

In an incident in Butte Creek Canyon, officers had to borrow a dump truck from the city in order to move in on a suspect who had them pinned down by gunfire, Maloney said.

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