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Mitchell police try for armored vehicle

The Mitchell City Council on Monday night approved an application to acquire a mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicle (MRAP) like this one for the Mitchell Police Division. (AP photo)

The Mitchell Police Division hopes to acquire an armored military vehicle for SWAT team use.

At Monday night’s City Council meeting at City Hall, the council approved an application to acquire a Mine-Resistant, Ambush-Protected (MRAP) armored vehicle that would be used for area Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) teams or high-risk missions, according to Chief of Public Safety Lyndon Overweg.

The vehicle is from the Texas 1033 military surplus program, which authorizes the transfer of excess U.S. Department of Defense property to local law enforcement agencies with special emphasis given to counter drug and terrorism efforts.

The approval by the council was only to allow the police to apply to get the vehicle, and Overweg said it’s not guaranteed that Mitchell will receive one.

“But there are 700 coming available nationwide,” he said.

Overweg said the city does not have an armored vehicle, and the cost to acquire one would be limited to transporting it from Texas to Mitchell.

“We wouldn’t actually own it,” Overweg said in an interview prior to the meeting. “We get to use it as long as we want and when we’re done with it, we’d turn it back.”

He added Sioux Falls, Rapid City and Codington County have each received vehicles from the surplus program.

Overweg said some of the officers in the division who have been deployed overseas with the military have trained and driven the vehicles.

“They’re very expensive if you have to buy them, hundreds of hundreds of thousands,” said Overweg, who added the state Division of Criminal Investigation, state Highway Patrol and other law-enforcement entities could be able to use the vehicle.

Councilman Phil Carlson showed support for the project and said “this is something that comes along once in a blue moon when the government gives you something to use like this.”

The council also approved a new software license and service agreement, by Zuercher-Technologies, of Sioux Falls, for the Mitchell Police Division. The program will also be used by the Davison County Sheriff’s Department.

“It will be all of our case reports, in-car computers, property records, evidence records, everything,” Overweg said. “It will take the place of the existing system we have.”

Overweg said the cost is about $163,000, and he said the software and programs will take six to nine months to be fully installed.