OVERWEG: Info about armored vehicle’s price tag misinterpreted
By Lyndon Overweg
Mitchell’s chief of public safety
I would like to take this opportunity to clarify the recent discussion at the last city council meeting to acquire an armored vehicle. A recent letter to the editor stated that the cost of the transportation for this vehicle was going to be $163,000. This is not true, but I give credit to the author of the letter for bringing it to our attention that this false information is out there. There was another unrelated contract that did get approved at the same meeting that was approximately $163,000, and perhaps this is where the facts got misinterpreted.
The Mitchell Department of Public Safety recently sought permission from the city council to apply for a used, armored vehicle for little cost; in fact, it would only be on loan to the city, and when we are done using it, we would have to return it to the Federal Surplus program (so we would not be purchasing it). The only cost involved would be to get the vehicle transported from Sealy, Texas, to Mitchell, and any maintenance cost. An estimate for trucking the vehicle to Mitchell will be approximately $4,000 at the high end, and there is a possibility that the state may assist with those transportation costs if needed.
If at any time we feel the maintenance is too expensive or we simply do not want the vehicle anymore, we can send the vehicle back to surplus. We are anticipating that this protective vehicle will last approximately 20 years-plus, due to the fact it will be used sparingly.
This vehicle will replace a 1993 Ford bus that was retired from Palace Transit use many years ago and is currently used by the Mitchell Emergency Response Unit with no ballistic protection. This bus would be sold on the city’s surplus auction and the maintenance and fuel budget for the bus would be used for the armored vehicle.
The armored vehicle would be available for regional response by city, county and state law enforcement. Right now, the closest armored law enforcement vehicles are located in Sioux Falls and Watertown. The reason we are applying for one of these vehicles is because they are very effective vehicles when moving a tactical team during a high-risk incident and they are very effective when used to evacuate citizens who may be near a high-risk situation to include a barricaded suspect or, worst-case scenario, a school shooting situation. This type of vehicle may also be used to respond to a rural farm setting which provides little or no protective cover for officers to approach an armed suspect. These vehicles are available on a limited basis to law enforcement only at this time.
We feel that acquiring one of these vehicles will be a low-cost solution for high-risk situations, and the vehicle has already been paid for with tax dollars. I would like to commend the Mitchell City Council for valuing the safety of the area law enforcement officers with their decision to go forward with this rare opportunity. The best case scenario is that we get the armored vehicle and never have to use it. But with the escalation of violence in our society, it is better to be prepared than to be reactive after the fact, especially when this opportunity is available. Hopefully this clarifies some misconceptions. Stay safe.