FAIRBANKS — Interior Alaska law enforcement will receive the biggest, toughest vehicle it’s ever had next week.
The Alaska State Troopers recently purchased three $286,000 Lenco BearCats, an unarmed military-style vehicle that’s been on the agency’s wish list for more than a decade. Of the three, one will be assigned to the Fairbanks-based Special Emergency Response Team, according to Capt. Randy Hahn, statewide SERT operations officer.
The troopers wanted a tool like the BearCat because the armored truck can safely get personnel into and rescue people out of dangerous situations, Hahn said.
Neither troopers nor the Fairbanks Police Department has anything like the BearCat, but the Anchorage Police Department has a Lenco B.E.A.R., the BearCat’s big cousin. A few years ago, Anchorage Police let the SERT use its B.E.A.R. when confronting a suspect who shot at a trooper near Willow. The armored vehicle brought negotiators close enough to convince the shooter to surrender, Hahn said.
The Fairbanks-based BearCat is intended for those kinds of emergencies but also may be used as extra support in less-serious situations. It won’t be used for any routine patrol work, but local residents may spot it even when there’s no emergency as it passes through town for cleaning or maintenance, Hahn said.
The BearCat has armor built to withstand .50-caliber gunfire and has a V-shaped hull to protect against improvised explosive devices, according to the website of the Pittsfield, Mass., based Lenco Armored Vehicles. For security purposes, the company shares mores specific information about vehicles only with military and law enforcement clients. The vehicle does not have a built-in weapon.
The other two BearCats will be based in Soldotna and Palmer.
Contact Sam Friedman at 459-7545. Follow him on Twitter: @FDNMcrime.