Sheriff’s office has army vehicle in arsenal


The reality of being a law enforcement officer is that one of the occupational hazards is that when an emergency call comes in, the officers can be heading directly into harm’s way. But, thanks to a happy coincidence and good timing, Wright County has an impressive vehicle at its disposal to help deal with emergency situations.
Late last year, Wright County Sheriff Joe Hagerty approved an agreement to receive an Army MRAP (Mine Resistant Ambush Protection) vehicle at no cost to the county. When fully equipped, the 2008 vehicle had a value of approximately $650,000. While most of the electronics were taken out of the vehicle, it still carries a price tag well in excess of $100,000. Hagerty said the county was lucky to procure one of these vehicles being cycled out for newer models for use by the Army.
 “Being that we have a nuclear plant in Wright County, we’re often the first at the trough when it comes to getting grant funding or opportunities like this to get an MRAP vehicle,” Hagerty said. “Our emergency-management team has been looking to get a vehicle like this to use when officers are approaching a potentially bad situation. We’ve had instances in which deputies and other law enforcement officers have found themselves in the line of fire. This vehicle will allow us to drive right up to the scene without fear of deputies being potentially shot or killed.”
Lt. Todd Hoffman said the county has worked with the federal government often for funding because the nuclear power plant in Monticello is viewed as a national asset and, in turn, a potential terrorist target. As a result, the county has received other tools for law enforcement, including things like night-vision goggles and protective clothing like Kevlar vests. The MRAP is a big-ticket item, but isn’t intended to display a show of force by the sheriff’s department.
“It’s a huge vehicle, but it isn’t an offensive weapon,” Hoffman said. “The main purpose will be to get our emergency-response team – our S.W.A.T. team – to the location we’re called to in a safe manner. We’ve had a few situations where this vehicle would have come in handy. It’s more for safety purposes than to look like an armed invasion.”
More information appears in this week's Messenger.