The Harford County Sheriff’s Office was recently approved to spend more than $400,000 on a second armored vehicle for its fleet.
Cristie Hopkins, a spokesperson for the sheriff’s office, said the 2021 Lenco Ballistic Engineered Armored Response Counter Attack Truck — or BearCat — will arrive in 10 to 12 months. The Harford County Board of Estimates approved the $404,720.25 purchase from Massachusetts-based Lenco Industries on Dec. 15.
The approval is the culmination of four years of effort from the sheriff’s office, which has been requesting an additional armored vehicle to share the load with the other armored car the office owns, Hopkins said. Its existing armored vehicle will remain in service in case it is needed. The new BearCat is expected to last 10 years, she said.
The office’s current armored vehicle finds use in active shootings, armed barricade situations and with the sheriff’s special response team, among others.
Earlier this year, it was used to pickup a man who had been shot during am armed barricade situation in Street. Benjamin Thomas Murdy, is facing multiple counts of attempted first- and second-degree murder, along with other charges, in connection to the Jan. 21 standoff with deputies, during which he allegedly fired nearly 200 rounds at responding law enforcement, and struck his neighbor in two places. Murdy’s next court appearance is scheduled for March.
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The office’s current armored vehicle was built in 2004 and suffers minor and major mechanical issues despite its low mileage, Hopkins said. Some of those repairs can leave the office’s special response team without an armored vehicle for up to three weeks.
The new vehicle, she said, provides continuity and ensures the sheriff’s office is not without an armored car, should it be necessary. The existing armored vehicle is used for about 100 to 125 operations a year, she said.
“In this day and age with the incidents that have occurred across the country and in this county, the citizens of Harford County should not be without this vehicle and its capabilities,” Hopkins said. “If a breakdown occurs, it is not uncommon to wait upwards of two hours for a replacement from our closest allies, the Maryland State Police or the Baltimore County Police.”
The new vehicle will have a battering ram attached to the front equipped with a 360-degree camera. It also as off-road capabilities, Hopkins said.
The purchase comes during a moment of tense community and police relations country-wide after the killing of George Floyd and other unarmed Black people across America. Calls have come to defund and demilitarize police forces, particular as some use military-style gear to disperse demonstrations.
Hopkins said the optics of the purchase were secondary to its point.
“Our citizens have come to expect — rightfully so — that we are prepared to assist them in any circumstance,” she said. “Regardless of public sentiment, the need to protect life during high risk operations will always be paramount to law enforcement operations.”