Don’t be surprised to see an Army tank rolling down a street near you.
The Cobb County police department has refurbished a donated Armored Personnel Carrier for officers to use in SWAT situations.
The vehicle, which retails for $500,000, is a Light Armor Vehicle that was used by the U.S. Army in Panama. The county paid $45,000 to upgrade the vehicle for police use.
Equipped with thermal sensors, computerized tracking devices, night vision, tear gas launchers and other gadgets, the all-black six-wheel unit can hold up to nine SWAT officers.
It has a new engine and transmission, which will allow it to reach a speed of 60 miles per hour.
“In these times, you don’t know what you are facing,” Cobb police chief George Hatfield said. “We want the maximum safety for our officers and the public. We want to be prepared for whatever comes up. This is another tool that will allow us to be quicker and faster in our response.”
Since 2000, SWAT has used a Peacekeeper vehicle on calls. The APC will allow SWAT officers to get closer to dangerous situations and transport citizens out of them. If officers are tracking a suspect, they can do so from within the vehicle. So far this year, Cobb’s SWAT team has responded to about 50 calls.
Walker County is the only other police department in Georgia with a similar vehicle. Gwinnett County and the state patrol use the LENCO vehicle, which resembles an armored truck. Clayton County has a Peacekeeper vehicle.
“You always hope that you don’t have to use it, but this is becoming a fact of life,” SWAT commander Lt. Joel Preston said. “You have to be prepared and make the situation safer.”
Once SWAT members complete training on the APC, the Peacekeeper will be refurbished for future use.
“These two units will eventually work in tandem,” said Det. Steve Brawner, who has overseen the project.
Beginning at 10 a.m. Saturday, the APC will be on display at Marietta’s town square.