When law enforcement agencies are faced with maintaining public safety services on shrinking budgets, every first responder, from the patrol officer to the tactical team member, is affected. Police administrators are assigned the task of finding ways to cut costs without compromising the safety of our neighborhoods and communities. Many agencies implement hiring freezes, incorporate police mobility vehicles into their fleets, and / or relegate equipment and technology upgrades to the back burner.
Big ticket purchases, like armored rescue vehicles, are often the last to qualify for funding. In response to this, Lenco Armored Vehicles
recently introduced an innovative program that offers smaller agencies on tight budgets the opportunity to purchase quality pre-owned vehicles at an affordable price.
Lenco Armored Vehicles is a leading designer and manufacturer of armored vehicles for law enforcement agencies, state police and sheriff's office SWAT teams, and the military. Since 1981, the company has produced over 5,000 vehicles in over 40 countries worldwide. Lenco's product line includes the BEAR(r) and BearCat(r) Armored Response & Rescue vehicles, with mission specific variants for Police, SWAT and Special Response Teams; MRAP (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected); MedEvac / Ambulance; Bomb Response / EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal); Anti-Riot and Civil Disturbance Response; and High-Level Personal Protection.
Lenco developed its core line of armored vehicles as an alternative to non-commercial, specialized military vehicles, building them on heavy-duty commercial-truck chassis platforms. As such, warranty-covered repairs, maintenance service, and replacement parts can be handled at any number of OEM dealers, truck centers, and retail parts stores, offering significant savings.
All Lenco armored trucks are built with Mil-Spec steel armor plate certified to defeat multi-hit attacks from 7.62mm Armor Piercing and/or .50 Cal BMG. Ceilings and floors provide enhanced blast and fragmentation protection, while ballistic glass windows offer superior clarity and the same multi-hit defeat. With a long list of standard equipment and available options, Lenco armored vehicles can be designed to meet mission-specific requirements.
Lenny Light, Vice President of Marketing and Sales for Lenco, said the Gen I BearCat Trade-In Program was introduced in 2011 when several customers asked about trading in their First Generation BearCat against the purchase of a new one. While most of Lenco's vehicles are used by law enforcement for SWAT purposes, the company also provides vehicles to federal agencies and the military. These military and government agencies utilize the vehicles on a more consistent basis, often running them 24/7, resulting in excessive wear in a shorter period of time. As a result, they are in pretty rough shape when they are traded in and generally require full refurbishment.
Complete refurbishment of a used BearCat consists of stripping down the vehicle, installing a new Ford engine, replacing all glass, and fully repainting the vehicle, inside and out. All refurbished BearCats offer Lenco's proven 50-caliber armor protection and proprietary rotating roof hatch with a counter-balance lift system. The interior is fully upgraded with seating for 10 operators, and is equipped with new bench seats, carpeting, and running boards. Other areas of refurbishment include 4-wheel drive, adjustable height gunner stand, siren and PA system, and multiple gunports.
After refurbishment, the BearCat is then marketed to law enforcement agencies for use in tactical and SWAT operations. Since trade-in value has a great deal more to do with hours on the engine than miles, most of the used BearCats have relatively low mileage. With the refurbishment program, smaller departments and budget-conscious agencies can upgrade to Lenco's newest equipment (including the Hydraulic Boom and Gas Injector Unit) at a more affordable price. Agencies trading in a used BearCat receive the full trade-in value of the vehicle, which can then be applied toward the purchase of a newer model. The price of a refurbished BearCat starts at $125,000.
Sam Todd is the Operations Advisor for the Ohio Tactical Officers Association (OTOA), a non-profit organization that provides networking opportunities and communication links to law enforcement tactical teams and first responders. The OTOA recently assisted Hudson Township's Metro SWAT Team in their search for a much-needed armored vehicle for tactical operations. "Funding a big-ticket item like this has often fallen on grant funding requirements, and occasionally, direct funding from an agency," Todd said. "It is not a luxury item; it is an essential tool that tactical units should have access to in a timely manner."
The recent rash of shootings has brought home to all Americans that senseless violence can occur anywhere in this country. In light of this, law enforcement agencies must have the tools necessary to bring mission-critical scenarios to a positive conclusion. When three Pittsburgh police officers were fatally shot during a four-hour standoff in April 2009, the pressure for Metro SWAT to procure an armored rescue vehicle became critical. Since many of the Pittsburgh SWAT team officers were good friends of Metro SWAT, the point was driven home especially hard.
Understanding that Metro SWAT was hindered by budgetary restraints, Jim Massery, Government Sales Manager for Lenco, suggested the purchase of an upgraded Gen 1BearCat through the refurbishment program. "These units provide the same great protection level and quality manufacturing Lenco has made their reputation on, with the vintage styling of the Gen 1 designs," Todd explained. The refurbished unit looks and functions like a new vehicle, giving small teams with tight budgets the opportunity to purchase a life-saving piece of equipment like the Lenco BearCat.
Like Metro SWAT, the Winnebago County Sheriff's Office in Illinois was struggling to acquire a much-needed armored vehicle for their SWAT team, primarily due to limited equipment funds.
According to Deputy Chief Scott D. Meyers, most of the Homeland Security grant money goes to ILEAS (Illinois Law Enforcement Alarm System), which is a regional response-type entity throughout the state. "Because of this, federal grant funding is usually unavailable to local agencies for big-ticket items like a BearCat," Meyers noted.
While discussing leasing options with Lenco's Jim Massery, Meyers learned about the refurbishment program and immediately recognized it as an attractive alternative. The Sheriff's Office ended up buying a 2004 BearCat at a price that was nearly half of what a new one would cost. Due to the lower pricing of the refurbished vehicle, they were able to use funds that had been seized from local drug dealers to purchase their BearCat. "Being able to obtain this item for the teams at a cost savings of nearly $100,000 is a great feeling for the agencies' administration, as well as the end user operator whose life it may someday save," Meyers stated.
Susan Geoghegan is a freelance writer living in Naples, Fla. She can be reached at email@example.com.