The Owasso Police Department is set to add a new armored vehicle to its fleet.
Owasso City Council on Tuesday, Dec. 17, approved the purchase of a Lenco BearCat, through Lenco Industries Inc. of Pittsfield, Massachusetts, in the amount of $289,320.
The new vehicle will provide additional resources and protection for Owasso PD’s SWAT team when responding to dangerous incidents in the field.
Police Cpt. Tracy Townsend said the BearCat would better equip officers when faced with challenging circumstances — particularly armed and barricaded subjects as well as hostage situations.
“In order to perform the job safely,” Townsend said, “the SWAT team needs an armored vehicle, on that is highly maneuverable, lightweight and offers optimal levels of civilian law enforcement ballistic protection.”
He said the most concerning trend facing Owasso officers are mental health calls involving persons threatening violence against themselves or others.
In 2018, Owasso officers responded to 262 mental health-related calls, with 169 involving suicidal subjects and 59 citizens taken into protective custody for mental health evaluation, according to Townsend. Coupled with the nationwide trend involving mass shootings of citizens and officers, the need for an armored vehicle like the BearCat is high, he said.
The BearCat features an all-steel armored construction and a V8 turbo diesel engine, and can seat 10-12 fully equipped officers. It is also equipped for both off-road and rural missions and is fully configurable to a wide range of BearCat variants.
“I think it’s a great investment for our police force and for our city to have this,” Councilman Doug Bonebrake said. “There’s a need, and it’s good to be ready for it.”
The balance within the City of Owasso’s General Fund is adequate to support a supplemental appropriation to OPD to fund the purchase of the vehicle, the agenda stated.
The BearCat will serve as the department’s first armored vehicle utilized by Owasso’s SWAT team.