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County takes delivery on armored personnel carrier

John M. Steiner / The Sun Stutsman County Sheriff Chad Kaiser, sits Thursday with the armored personnel carrier.1 / 2
John M. Steiner / The Sun The door on the armored personnel carrier is built with a double wall of thick steel and has an air-assisted opening mechanism.2 / 2

The newest vehicle in the fleet of the Stutsman County Sheriff's Office is a low-mileage armored personnel carrier. The 15-ton armor plated International MaxxPro MRAP can carry officers for a variety of rescue and law enforcement missions, according to Chad Kaiser, Stutsman County sheriff.

MRAP is the acronym for Mine Resistant Ambush Protected. The unit Stutsman County acquired has about 17,000 miles on it.

"You hope you don't have to use it often," he said. "But when you need it, you need it."

Stutsman County acquired the MRAP through the Law Enforcement Support Office of the U.S. Department of Defense. The only costs to the county were transporting the vehicle from Mississippi, adding striping and logos and installing lights and radios.

The county is responsible for future maintenance and must return it to LESO if it no longer needs the vehicle.

Kaiser said the chassis and drive train were manufactured by Navistar with parts and service available. The vehicle is designed to go through up to 3 feet of standing water and should be able to power through heavy snow.

"We intend to use it for search and rescue operations and with the SOT team," Kaiser said.

The James Valley Special Operations Team is a regional organization of law enforcement officers that responds to situations involving armed or barricaded suspects in southeast North Dakota. The Special Operations Team currently has access to Bearcat vehicles based at Fargo, Bismarck, Minot and Grand Forks.

"The problem is that when firearms are fired at officers it takes hours to get those (Bearcat) vehicles here," said Scott Edinger, Jamestown chief of police.

Kaiser said it is difficult for the SOT officers in Jamestown and Stutsman County to train with the Bearcats because of the vehicles' locations. Having the MRAP based in Jamestown will allow officers to use it during training exercises.

When in use, the vehicle has seating for a driver and passenger in the front with bench seating for several officers facing each other in the rear compartment. The passenger compartment includes heating and air conditioning along with room for additional equipment, Kaiser said.

"It is available on a limited basis," he said. "As far as I know, this is the only one in North Dakota although they are trying to get two into each state."

Kaiser first applied for the program a year ago. He was notified about a month ago that the county's application had been accepted. The vehicle arrived in Jamestown earlier this week.

"It is big and scary," Edinger said. "It is meant for the protection of officers and civilians."

Sun reporter Keith Norman can be reached at 701-952-8452 or by email at knorman@jamestownsun.com

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