The Okaloosa (Fla.) Sheriff's Office purchased a 16,000-pound armored vehicle though a $250,000 federal homeland security grant.

Built by Pittsfield, Mass.-based Lenco, the "BearCat" will be used by the regional SWAT teams in northwest Florida for extreme circumstances, including rescues, violent situations, and as a response to terrorist threats.

"All equipment purchased under The Department of Homeland Security grants can be utilized in an all-hazard approach," says Chief Deputy Mike Coup. "The Bearcat is another tool used to protect citizens. For example, if you have a situation where officers are pinned down under heavy gunfire, the BearCat will be the best available tool to go in and pull them to safety".

Escambia, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa, and Bay County are the four area SWAT teams for the Region One Domestic Security Task Force. The Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office will maintain and house the BearCat due to its central location within the region.

For more information on Lenco and the BearCat visit www.Lenco-BearCat.com.

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