The department added the 2012 Lenco BearCat armored personnel carrier in April, when two officers drove the vehicle to Tracy from Massachusetts.
Lt. Mark Duxbury, who oversees the SWAT team, said the vehicle will be used when officers could be at risk from someone who is armed.
The vehicle will be used primarily by SWAT team members during situations such as barricaded standoffs and the serving of search warrants for robberies, narcotics and homicide cases.
“Basically, it’s an armored vehicle,” Duxbury said. “It gives us some ballistic protection from small-arms fire.”
He declined to comment on specific capabilities of the truck, but said “it is very easy to operate.”
The Tracy City Council approved the purchase of the vehicle during an August council meeting. Chief Gary Hampton told council members the vehicle would have armor plating, gun ports and infrared capabilities.
The armored truck replaces a bank-style armored transport that broke down years ago.
SWAT officers have used the new BearCat twice to serve search warrants, including the raid of a hash lab on May 30.
The cost of the $282,000 vehicle was covered by a $100,000 federal grant from the Department of Homeland Security and asset forfeiture proceeds from the police department.
Duxbury said the truck is “an added layer of security to operate.”
For example, in the case of an armed person barricaded in a house, Duxbury said the truck would carry officers to the scene safe from gunfire.
“We can drive up on the driveway and use the vehicle to shield them and transport our officers there and safely transport residents out,” Duxbury said.
At the end of a recent vehicle pursuit, the driver barricaded himself inside a home on Oak Court, and Tracy police had to rely on an armored vehicle from the Ceres Police Department to safely move residents out of neighboring homes.
“It is safer for us and the neighboring residents,” Duxbury said. “Without the truck, it would take longer and add risk to personnel.”
About half of the department’s officers are trained to drive the BearCat, Duxbury said.
“The vehicle is assigned to SWAT, but the entire department will have access to use it,” he said.
The BearCat was also used by Tracy police officers running the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics on Friday, June 21.
Duxbury said the public can get a closer look at the vehicle during National Night Out on Aug. 6 and at the police department’s safety fair on Sept. 28.
• Contact Glenn Moore at 830-4252 or email@example.com.