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View All Articles | July 9, 2024

Kearney Police give first public tours of new Bearcat armored vehicle

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KEARNEY, Neb. (News Channel Nebraska) – For the first time, the Kearney Police Department is showing off its Bearcat armored vehicle.

The Bearcat is custom-built by the company Lenco and has been with Kearney Police for 18 months but Wednesday night was the first time it was on display for the public to peer inside.

It’s full of features meant to enhance officer safety and the safety of the community. It serves as a mobile piece of armor in a crisis situation.

“I now have the means where I can enter into a piece of armor and I can approach that individual knowing that I am safe,” Sergeant Greg Benson said. “We might be able to deploy some form of negotiations with this individual at somewhat of a closer distance and hopefully get a peaceful resolution.”

Kearney Police used the Bearcat six times last year and three times so far this year. Earlier this month, the department used it along the Platte River when officers say an armed woman was having a mental health crisis. They were able to safely put her in protective custody.

“This vehicle was able to get extremely close to that person safely without putting anybody in harms way,” Chief Bryan Waugh said. “That’s where you see contemporary policing, you talk about 21st century policing, this vehicle fits in the model of 21st century policing.”

Modern policing comes with a price tag. The Be

arcat, which is one of just three of its kind in Nebraska, cost $331,000.

But Benson says its versatility to be used in standoffs, with people considering suicide, and for rescues during natural disasters makes it an invaluable tool.

“We want to help people,” Benson said. “This vehicle isn’t there to inflict harm on anybody. It’s to give us an advantage to do our job safely and, in turn, keep the public safe, the suspect safe.”

The Bearcat weighs 18-thousand pounds. The Buffalo County Sheriff’s Office also uses it as part of the Emergency Service Unit.

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