Milwaukee, WI – When you respond to a shots-fired call and find yourself pinned down by rifle rounds zinging in from an unidentified location, what”s the best thing you can see coming toward you?
For Matthew Seitz and David Sturma, Milwaukee (WI) PD officers caught in that spine-chilling predicament earlier this year, it was a formidable, black, no nonsense head-turner that looks something like a cross between a Humvee, an SUV, and a Brink”s truck.
“Our situation was scary as hell,” Seitz says. “The feeling of relief when you see that thing rumbling down the street toward you is hard to explain.”
“That thing” is technically called a Ballistic Engineered Armored Response Counter Attack Truck, shortened to BearCat by its manufacturer, Lenco Armored Vehicles in Massachusetts.
Pun aside, the BearCat is an arresting vehicle. Built on a Ford 4WD chassis, it”s constructed of nearly seamless hardened-steel armor plate and multi-hit ballistic glass, with blast-fragmentation-resistant floors, specially designed shooting ports and a rotating roof hatch. It can be used for firing chemical agents, Tasers, and firearms including machine guns and grenade launchers; has the stamina and durability to jump curbs and other obstacles; and can comfortably transport 10 fully geared officers for long distances.
Once considered a desperation trump card for riot magnets like Los Angeles, BearCat-like equipment is now taking its place in the response arsenals not only of major heartland departments like Milwaukee (with more than 2,000 sworn personnel) but, through regional deployment, in medium-size and small towns as well.