Gaylord News is a reporting project of the University of Oklahoma Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication

Gaylord News

Gaylord News is a reporting project of the University of Oklahoma Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication

Gaylord News

Gaylord News is a reporting project of the University of Oklahoma Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication

Gaylord News

New city council unsupportive of armored vehicle purchase

The+Lenco+BearCat+%28Ballistic+Engineered+Armored+Response+Counter+Attack+Truck%29+G3+is+designed+specifically+for+law+enforcement+purposes+and+is+not+weaponized%2C+though+it+is+equipped+with+gunports+large+enough+to+fit+40mm+gas+canisters+or+small+arms.+Priced+from+%24200%2C000+to+%24275%2C000%2C+the+20-foot+vehicle+has+seats+for+up+to+12+officers+or+evacuees+and+running+boards+where+additional+personnel+can+be+accommodated.+Photo+courtesy+of+Lenco.+
The Lenco BearCat (Ballistic Engineered Armored Response Counter Attack Truck) G3 is designed specifically for law enforcement purposes and is not weaponized, though it is equipped with gunports large enough to fit 40mm gas canisters or small arms. Priced from $200,000 to $275,000, the 20-foot vehicle has seats for up to 12 officers or evacuees and running boards where additional personnel can be accommodated. Photo courtesy of Lenco.
The Lenco BearCat (Ballistic Engineered Armored Response Counter Attack Truck) G3 is designed specifically for law enforcement purposes and is not weaponized, though it is equipped with gunports large enough to fit 40mm gas canisters or small arms. Priced from $200,000 to $275,000, the 20-foot vehicle has seats for up to 12 officers or evacuees and running boards where additional personnel can be accommodated. Photo courtesy of Lenco.
The current Norman Police Department SWAT team vehicle sits in its parking spot behind the Norman Investigations Center on Lindsay Street. The truck is a 2002 Chevrolet C6500 and offers no ballistic protection. It has been used to transport equipment and personnel and to serve as a tactical operations center for commanders during call-outs. Megan Ross / The Daily

By Megan Ross

Newly-elected Norman council members may shut down the potential purchase of an armored vehicle for the Police Department.

The Department proposed the purchase of a Lenco BearCat in July of 2015, but the City Council tabled the decision indefinitely. The issue resurfaced, however, in candidate forums leading up to last month’s election, when Kate Bierman defeated incumbent councilman Greg Heiple in Ward 1.

While Heiple has been an outspoken advocate of the BearCat purchase, Bierman expressed considerable hesitation, citing residents’ concerns about the vehicle’s $280,000 price tag and militarized appearance.

“I just have a lot of questions,” Bierman said. “If I were a citizen voting in a public referendum, I don’t know that I could say that I support it.”

Assistant SWAT Commander Lt. Justin Wishon said the department wants to purchase the vehicle for the same reason most people buy car insurance: to be prepared for the worst.

“I have a wife and children, and the guys on my team have families,” Wishon said. “There’s no point in putting my guys in the line of fire without the protection they need, especially when we have the chance to get it for them.”

Re-elected Ward 7 councilman Stephen Tyler Holman argues the funds could be better allocated.

“It’s like flood insurance in the desert,” Holman said. “If you’re really concerned about protecting officers and saving lives, it would be more beneficial to spend that $300,000 putting bulletproof glass on our patrol vehicles or getting better body armor.”

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About the Contributor
was born and raised in Southeast Michigan. Megan graduated from the University of Oklahoma in the spring of 2019 with a B.A. in journalism and a minor in art. When she's not working, she enjoys hiking, camping, sketching, weaving and playing music.

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