GREAT BEND, Kan. (KSNW) – In August 2015, Great Bend police were involved in a standoff at a motel parking lot. There were no injuries were reported and the man was eventually arrested, but it got the police department thinking about how they can be better prepared for similar situations.
Great Bend police call it the “Peacekeeper.” The tactical vehicle has bulletproof glass, a thick steel armor, and weighs about 8,500 pounds. The department is counting on it to keep officers and victims safe in dangerous situations.
Those situations include barricaded subjects with a firearm, search and rescue, drug busts — even disaster relief.
“Most of the time, you’re never going to see it because we just simply don’t need it,” said Lt. Scott Harper. “But it’s a tool, when you do need it, you have it.”
How do officers determine if they need the vehicle? According to Harper, they use a threat assessment. They look at the people involved and if they have any criminal history. The SWAT team would also figure out if there are firearms or weapons of mass destruction.
“If it looks like it’s something that’s going to provide us protection against a high-risk target, then we would use it,” said Harper.
Officers need to be trained to drive and use the vehicle. Harper said the department is currently creating a program for that.
Police received the vehicle, from Garden City police, for $500 through the “1033 program” — a federal program that allows the transfer of military equipment to law enforcement agencies at little or no cost.
The vehicle still needs some mechanical work, but police don’t expect it to cost too much. Harper said he hopes to have the Peacekeeper ready to use in the next month.