SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Department of Public Safety has a new vehicle it hopes will keep officers and the public safe from shootings.
The vehicle isn’t quite ready for action yet, but when it is, troopers should feel a little safer during dangerous situations.
The department received this vehicle from the military as part of a surplus program. It’s called a mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicle, but it will have a different purpose in Utah.
“The anticipated missions for this one would be something along the lines of an active shooter situation,” Utah Highway Patrol Lt. Alex Lepley said. “We could drive right up into the middle of the situation if need be, keeping the crew protected from any adversarial threat.”
It could also be used for hostage rescues and negotiations with armed men.
"The key to it is it's not an offensive weapon,” Lepley said. “It's not an M1 Abrams tank or an Apache gunship. It's a defensive weapon, and we think of it as more of a rescue vehicle."
The department paid $8,300 for a vehicle with only 1,000 miles on it. A new vehicle would have cost $300,000.
It also takes certain skills to drive such a vehicle, Lepley said.
"We selected certain individuals to be trained as vehicle operators for this because it does take some special training to know how to operate a vehicle this large, what to do, what not to do," he said.
Lepley said he understands that some people may be concerned about local police using military vehicles.
"I understand where a lot of people say it's just the militarization of the police forces, but that's not really what we're talking about,” he said. “It is a defensive weapon. It is absolutely not an offensive weapon."
Lepley said it’s not practical to take the vehicle out on every call.
“It’s only for the high-threat areas, and unfortunately there are more and more of those incidents happening across the country,” he said.