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Friday, October 24, 2014

Securing our safety

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Posted: Thursday, October 24, 2013 5:07 pm | Updated: 6:13 am, Sat Oct 26, 2013.

Culpeper County Sheriff Scott Jenkins recently rolled out his latest vehicle: A bulletproof armored personal carrier.

Parked outside of Culpeper County Jail, the enormous vehicle was recently detailed featuring shiny, oversized tires and newly placed Culpeper County lettering.

Jenkins said his office will mainly use the armored vehicle during Special Weapons and Tactics responses, barricade situations, active shooter circumstances, and high-risk warrant services.

“Armored vehicles are becoming more necessary in law enforcement much like ballistic armor has been in the past. Statistics show that there’s increased threat levels,” explained Jenkins, referring to the dangerous situation in Spotsylvania in September where two Stafford County Sheriff’s Office deputies were shot during a barricade situation.

“Rifle rounds will penetrate any personal body armor that we’re wearing and they’ll even go through the heavy tactical gear that our SWAT guys are wearing,” said Jenkins. “There’s no patrol vehicle that we have that will stop those rounds, cutting through and killing the officers.”

Jenkins said the United States Department of Defense paid $600,000 for the vehicle five years ago and thanks to the United States government’s surplus program for law enforcement agencies, Culpeper was able to acquire the armored vehicle with “no local tax dollars.”

Although the vehicle belongs to Culpeper, Jenkins said surrounding counties are welcome to use it anytime.

“This is not something that will only be used in Culpeper. We intend for it to be available for any county in the region as well as the state police. When they call, it’ll be on its way immediately,” said Jenkins. “Before, it might have been a two-hour window to get an armored vehicle here when called for. Two hours is a long delay when shots have been fired and people are in danger.”

Jenkins added that the armored capability of protection for this vehicle is extremely high.

“It’ll stop 50-caliber armor piercing rounds,” said Jenkins, adding that the vehicle was built to military specifications. “It can stop [improvised explosive devices] and other explosives won’t penetrate this vehicle. It’s an extremely safe vehicle. We’d like to say we’d never have a need for it, but unfortunately since I’ve taken office, we’ve had several barricade situations.”

Asked if a driver would need a special permit to operate the armored vehicle, Jenkins said a person would need a commercial driver’s license.

“There are certain allowances for law enforcement during emergency services,” he added.

CCSO Special Operations Lt. Bryant Arrington said in certain situations when law enforcement needs to drive down long driveways in rural areas in this county, the armored vehicles provides a protective cover. It also has speakers onboard, allowing law enforcement to communicate during hostage negotiations, if necessary.

“There are many aspects where this vehicle can be utilized,” said Arrington. “It’s a phenomenal piece of equipment.”

Arrington also added that the government surplus program provided 20 sets of night vision goggles worth $200,000, “saving the local taxpayers from paying that amount.”

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