12:54 p.m. PDT June 13, 2014
The Salem Police Department needs to replace one of its SWAT vehicles and its eyeing military surplus equipment to do so.
Equipment is in good supply due to receding U.S. presence in Afghanistan, but it’s coming at a good time for another reason.
“That vehicle has run its course of life,” Aguilar said. “It’s been on several missions where we’ve had to tow it away.”
Police Chief Jerry Moore told Salem City Council last month that the police department had accepted a SWAT vehicle to replace the 25-year-old armored truck.
According to Lt. Jim Aguilar, assistant emergency operations group commander, the vehicle currently used by the department is on loan from the Oregon State Police. It is used by Special Weapons and Tactics Teams and Bomb Team operations and was formerly in use by an armored car service.
While it has provided Salem officers with a lot of protection over the years, it apparently has a host of mechanical issues.
The replacement vehicle has become available to Salem Police through the Federal Defense Reutilization and Management Office, a program that authorizes the transfer of surplus military equipment to law enforcement agencies. This program was established through the 1997 National Defense Authorization Act, the item said.
“What they do is bring pieces of equipment back that have been used,” Aguilar said.
The replacement is a six-wheeled Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle, but officers are probably are going to refer to it as the MRAP.
“They ramped up production of those during war in Afghanistan,” Aguilar said.
Since U.S. military presence in Afghanistan is winding down, more law enforcement agencies have put the vehicles to use. However, Aguilar doesn’t believe the one soon to be in the care of Salem Police was ever overseas.
Armored vehicles are not a luxury, they’re a necessity. Just Thursday afternoon the tactical operations team was dispatched to an apartment complex on Coral Avenue in northeast Salem because officers were seeking a man they believed to be armed in one of the units.
Multiple SWAT vehicles responded to the incident, which quickly fizzled out when the suspect, 33-year-old Jerad Joseph Smith, surrendered to police without a fight.
Regardless of the outcome, it was important to have vehicles on scene that could protect officers from potential gunfire.
“We deploy a number of times during the year,” Aguilar said. “The armor is crucial for us.”
The MRAP is scheduled to arrive in Salem sometime within the next week.
Salem Police will be getting the vehicle for free with a two-year warranty. It has an estimated value of more than $800,000 and is expected to provide superior safety and reliability to vehicle purchased from private vendors, the chief said.
The only cost to be incurred by the replacement is transportation of the vehicle from Texas to Salem on a flatbed truck, which will be an estimated $9,000. This will be paid for by the department’s Federal Drug Forfeiture program. Ongoing costs concerning the vehicle will be included in the operating budget.