Norman Police looking to purchase armored police vehicles

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NORMAN, Okla. -- An armored police vehicle called the "BearCat" could soon be cruising the streets of Norman.

The police chief in Norman says these vehicles are needed immediately.

Chief Keith Humphrey went before city council, letting them know that in the last 5 years, they've responded to 35 SWAT call-outs where someone was shooting, barricaded, or holding hostages.

"It’s just the times we’re in, it’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when, and we have to be prepared," Chief Humphrey said.

He wants to make it clear that the BearCat is to be used for safety, and is "not a military vehicle."

Critics say spending the money would be ridiculous.

"The Norman animal welfare shelter, that place needs money, that place needs direction that place needs a lot of help, $280,000 could go so far there could go so much further than a police armored vehicle," Adam Beatty, a concerned Norman citizen, said.

The Norman police chief said safety is the top priority. He used the Nextep active shooter situation in Norman as an example.

"This vehicle would've allowed us to pull up directly to the front door, or another point of evacuation, we could've loaded a number of citizens in the vehicle, driven to a safe location, return and do the same thing," Chief Humphrey said.

But critics are not buying that justification.

"Looked like the NPD handled that pretty well without an armored vehicle, I don't think we need one. I'm concerned it might escalate the situation," Beatty said.

This man says it would bring fear.

"It's not a war zone, and that's what that things look like it, regardless if it's armored, regardless if there's weapons in it," Beatty said.

"The vehicle we're requesting is not a military vehicle," Chief says. "It has no weapon capability, it can not discharge a weapon, it's strictly for safety."

If approved, the vehicle would cost $274,000 plus another $6,000 for transportation and training.

City Council has not yet approved it; they'll bring it up again at the next meeting.

The money would not come from the general fund, the money is already in a special fund only to be used for the police department.

However, for checks and balances, it must be approved by council.



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