BEAR Alert: HPD Has A New Tactical Tool

The Houston Police Department's SWAT team has a new tool to fight crime, a 12-ton armored personnel carrier that is bigger and better equipped than anything the tactical unit has had before. Houston Public Radio's Jack Williams reports.

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It's called BEAR, which stands for Ballistic Engineered Armored Response, a huge, black vehicle that has an array of protective features to keep officers safe. The 4-wheel-drive, 300 horsepower carrier can transport 15 fully equipped SWAT officers, protecting them from high-powered weapons. This is Tactical Operations Division Captain David Gott.

"It's fully ballistic. .308, 50 caliber rounds just bounce off of it. We can actually deploy manpower, deploy equipment in any high-risk situation anywhere in the city. We can rescue people out of it. People are trapped or bogged-down in a high-risk situation, say an active-shooter incident, we can drive it right up, load-up 30-35 people inside there and get them out of danger."ξξξ

The $295,000 BEAR vehicle was purchased entirely with money donated by the 100 Club, an organization that supports the families of officers killed in the line of duty. Rick Hartley is executive director.

"Safety is what it's all about.ξ When we buy equipment, it has to be officer safety or life-protecting equipment. That's the key. This certainly fits into it, when you can take full teams of SWAT members into a dangerous situation, into harm's way, it made all the sense in the world."ξ

HPD's current armored personnel carrier, also purchased by the 100 Club, will now serve as a back-up to the new one.

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