Three new military-grade tactical vehicles are being distributed to Alaska State Troopers in Southcentral Alaska and Fairbanks.
AST spokesperson Beth Ipsen says the tactical response vehicles are intended for “use during situations involving a higher-than-normal degree of danger to the public or responding officers.”
Troopers have been looking into acquiring tactical vehicles of their own for about 10 years, especially since the June 2012 Kotzebue standoff against Arvid Nelson Jr., who shot and wounded two troopers before killing himself.
"We've borrowed one of APD's tactical vehicles for a callout in the Valley, and we've borrowed a dump truck in Kotzebue," Ipsen said.
A Channel 2 News crew saw two of the Lenco BearCat military ATVs, parked near the Department of Public Safety compound on Tudor Road Tuesday. Lenco also makes MRAP mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles for the U.S. military.
The BearCats cost about $286,000 per vehicle, and were paid for using money that was originally intended for methamphetamine eradication and violent crimes. Troopers say they were able to reappropriate the grant money for the vehicles about a year and a half ago.
AST Capt. Randy Hahn said on Thursday the vehicles will help troopers resolve dangerous situations.
"They'll be critical from having the perspective, of having the ability to get in closer when we're trying to negotiate with people -- when we have critical incidents that require evacuation of citizens from an area, if we have a shooter in a location and we need to get them out, (or) the individuals out from another area," Hahn said.
Hahn said the three vehicles will be stationed in three communities: Palmer, Soldotna and Fairbanks. He said the vehicles would assist operations for their Special Emergency Reaction Teams in all three locations.
"It just makes sense for us to have these vehicles located where those teams can use them to their advantage," Hahn said.
The vehicles will remain relatively close to the three areas, but they can be transported to other communities if necessary.
"We don't have aircraft ourselves that are capable of transporting them, but they can certainly be loaded onto cargo aircraft and transported virtually to any place that a cargo aircraft of that size can land," Hahn said.
Troopers say they expect the life expectancy of the tactical response vehicles to be about 20 years.
Channel 2’s Mallory Peebles and Samantha Angaiak contributed information to this story.
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