The Marshalltown Police Department wants to make room in its fleet for a 47,000 pound military vehicle.
Mike Tupper, police chief of the Marshalltown Police Department, told the city council Monday, the police department is interested in obtaining a Caiman MTV Defensive Vehicle that will be used for critical and highly dangerous operations. The vehicle, which seats 11, is 24 feet long and 10 feet tall.
The vehicle is valued at $500,000 but is free of charge through a military equipment surplus program the Marshalltown Police Department is enrolled in.
The Marshalltown Police Department is one of five law enforcement offices in the state that is interested in getting a Caiman MTV Defensive Vehicle. The vehicle would be used for defensive purposes.
The only cost would be shipping from Sealy, Texas. The shipping cost is about $3,500 to $5,000 and would be paid using seized assets or drug money funds.
"We have a great opportunity here to acquire a vehicle for a very low price and the drug dealers of Marshall County are paying for it," Tupper said. "We would be using seized assets, essentially drug money we have taken off criminals, they would be helping us acquire this vehicle."
The vehicle would be used, if at all used, for defensive purposes, Tupper said.
"You never know when critical events are going to arise," Tupper said. "It's difficult to wait an hour or more for the state police or another county in our vicinity or neighborhood to bring this type of equipment to use. When these critical events are happening we need to respond right away."
The vehicle will have the capability to operate in environments that a normal police car, heavy trucks or special utility vehicles cannot.
The vehicle would be completely refurbished and replaced with new equipment including the suspension frame, engine, transmission brakes, wheels and tires.
Sgt. Kiel Stevenson, of the Marshalltown Police Department, said this vehicle will benefit overall officer and citizen safety.
"It gives us a way to maintain a scene," Stevenson said. "We've had incidents before where it's hard to maintain some kind of control over a scene because of where you have to get officers in positions of safety so this would allow you to get closer into a situation and maintain some kind of control."
Since October 2011, a handful of instances happened in Marshalltown where the vehicle could have been used, Stevenson said.
According to Tupper, one of the incidents was in December 2011 during an attempted murder investigation.
During the incident the subject fled out the back door and the perimeter could not be contained quickly enough. Five people entered a garage six blocks away where the subject was hiding.
The perimeter was not secure enough at that location and the subject was able to flee the area. Police and civilians were at risk in an open environment during search for the offender, Tupper said.
No one was injured in the incident, but it could have gone in a different direction and resulted in negative outcomes, Tupper said.
"Not every time we go out we are going to use this, that's the main thing," Stevenson said. "If we can use it one time and it could save us that's worth every penny."
The vehicle would be stored in an impound area where the Marshalltown Police Department currently stores police vehicles and cars seized as evidence, Tupper said.
The Marshalltown Police Department would need to get the vehicle by May 12, if not, the vehicle will go to another state.
Leon Lamer, at-large council member suggested using the city's trailer, currently stored at the airport, to transport it. This would eliminate transportation costs.
Al Hoop, 4th-Ward council member and Joel Greer, 2nd-Ward council member, said they approved the vehicle purchase.
"I'd be happy to support anything you do because I trust your judgement and your staff's judgement," Greer said.
No council members or anyone from the public had concerns or objections.
The item will be put on the May 5 special city council meeting agenda.
Capt. Chris Jones, of the Marshalltown Police Department, said 13,000 Caiman MTV Defensive Vehicles are allowed or permitted by defense nationwide. In Iowa there are currently 10.
Iowa law enforcement agencies with similar vehicles include the Buena Vista County Sheriff's Office, the Mason City Police Department, the Jasper County Sheriff's Office, the Scott County Sheriff's Office, the Story County Sheriff's Office and the Washington Police Department.
Iowa law enforcement agencies that have pending military vehicle surplus purchase include the Johnson County Sheriff's Office, the Black Hawk County Sheriff's Office, the Sioux City Police Department, the Muscatine Police Department and the Marshalltown Police Department.