The Montgomery County (TX) Courier featured this opinion-editorial today:
Recently approved by the Conroe City Council at a cost of nearly $170,000, the armored vehicle, manufactured by Fort Worth-based The Armored Group LLC, is built around a Ford F-550 Super Duty commercial chassis and a 6.8-liter, V10 gas-powered engine. It would be used to perform tactical rescues, as well for secure approaches to dangerous locations such as high-risk warrants by the trained 20 members of the CPD tactical SWAT team.
The BATT has firewall protection against shots or blast fragmentation, as well as interior seating for 10-12 officers.
“If we know people inside have weapons, as we make approach to the house, we will be in an armored vehicle,” Conroe Police Chief Philip Dupuis said. “If a member of the public is injured and laying in the open and the suspect is still armed, we have no way of rescuing victims (without the vehicle).”
While the situation never has arisen in Dupuis’ time as police chief and the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office also has a similar vehicle, Dupuis wants one available to his trained officers at a moment’s notice, especially with the growth in the city and the increasing incidents of officer-involved shootings and other armed situations over the past few years in the growing greater Houston area.
The vehicle, which will arrive in February or March 2013, was purchased through asset forfeiture funds, which must be used for specific law enforcement purposes. While it can be used to pay for officers, the CPD already has eight “overhire,” or unfunded, positions out of its 118 full-time spots, and the asset forfeiture funds are not guaranteed to come in each year to offset those expenses. The CPD has been saving up for a needs-based purchase such as this, rather than have the money committed to unfunded positions that could be eliminated by lack of funds or milked away by overtime for specific initiatives.
The Conroe PD had nearly $400,000 in asset forfeiture funds saved up before the purchase. This is a forward-thinking, long-term move that could help protect officers and citizens in armed situations in the future.
As U.S. citizens debate the preparation and security before an attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission and CIA annex in Benghazi, Libya, that killed U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans in September, Dupuis does not want that doubt lingering over his department.
“I hope we never use the truck,” he said. “But I don’t want to be the guy who said, ‘Boy, I wish we had purchased the truck because we needed it.’
“If we have a Benghazi, we’re going to need that truck, and we’re going to use it, because officer training is my No. 1 priority.”