Bearcat comes to Kootenai County - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Bearcat comes to Kootenai County

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COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho - "We're not warriors, we're guardians," says Kootenai County Sheriff Ben Wolfinger as he show's off the department's new Bearcat. 


"Our job is to guard the public and to first do that, we have to guard ourselves." 

The new piece of equipment comes at a time when armored vehicles are at the heart of controversy. Police departments obtain this equipment from the 1033 program which allows extra military weapons and equipment to be transferred to local law enforcement at almost no cost. 

But the Kootenai county Bearcat is different from military surplus equipment, in that it was bought from a civilian company and made specifically for law enforcement. 

"The MRAPs, which are very common now in the military surplus are much bigger, almost twice the weight, and places we have to go in the county can't always handle that," says Wolfinger. 

Some officers in Kootenai county say despite the controversy that surrounds the surplus program, this equipment is needed. 

"Law enforcement is not the same that it used to be 20 or 30 years ago when I started in this job. We've seen a significant change in law enforcement, and now we're facing folks, for example, on mile post five, we had a suspect who pulled out two assault rifles, one with a drum magazine, and he opened fire on our officers," says Post Falls Chief of Police Scott Haug. 

The Post Falls Police department obtained an MRAP from the military surplus program last summer, and describes it as an insurance policy, "you don't really want it, but when you need it, your'e sure glad you have it." 


He says the predominant use of these vehicles is to keep police safe, and while the surplus program is under fire, departments can obtain similar type vehicles, but the 10-33 program lets them do it cheaper if they don't have the funds to buy one themselves.

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