Armored Vehicles Help Keep Law Enforcement, Community Safe

When police are involved in dangerous situations, such as what happened in Fargo, armored vehicles, also called Bearcats, are often called into action.

The West Dakota SWAT team got their armored vehicle in 2010 as a joint venture between the Bismarck and Mandan police departments, as well as Burleigh and Morton County sheriff's departments.

Law enforcement says it's just another tool to keep officers and the public safe.

This Lenco Bearcat is more than 8 tons of bullet-proof steel, acting as a barrier between flying bullets and law enforcement during high risk situations.

"I think this is the greatest tool that we've had and I'm very grateful that we were able to get the money to have that. You think of the cost of $225,000, and that's minimal compared to having to pay for an officer's funeral and having the community go through something like that," said Lt. Jason Stugelmeyer, West Dakota SWAT Team.

Police say the Bearcat is a mode of transportation used to keep officers safe during high risk situations. They say it's used on average about eight to 10 times a year.

"We're able to shrink perimeters closer to houses, which actually keeps people safer. If we have somebody shooting at us and you know, we just have a squad car to protect us, our perimeter might have to be out a 100 yards, which there may be several houses in between the suspect and a squad car. At 100 yards, with this we're able to pull up comfortably right in front of the residence and we are able to negotiate with the suspect and hopefully come to a peaceful resolution," Stugelmeyer said.

Stugelmeyer says Dickinson, Minot, Fargo and Grand Forks all are equipped with armored vehicles.

The Bearcat was purchased with a federal Homeland Security grant.​