Two years after it was hauled from Sacramento to Riverside County, the Murrieta Police Department’s new armored truck is ready to roll.
On Thursday, Murrieta police Lt. Tony Conrad stood near the 23,000-pound machine and explained what it took to get it here and ready for use.
“This has been a department project," Conrad said. “It was assigned back in October 2011 by Chief Baray; he envisioned getting armor in Southwest Riverside County.”
The Murrieta Police Department acquired the truck, a Panzer Casspir, through the 1033 Program, according to Conrad.
The program allows the Department of Defense to transfer excess property to state and local law enforcement agencies free of charge.
Murrieta police then used $130,000 in asset forfeiture—monies seized during narcotics-related investigations—to transport and retrofit the Casspir with new electrical wiring, paint and fabrication, the lieutenant said.
“So this is obviously not something the taxpayers had to pay for,” Conrad said.
The 250-horsepower Casspir will protect Murrieta SWAT officers from high-powered rifles up to and including an AK-47, Conrad explained, which is something the department’s other SWAT vehicle, a Humvee, can not do.
The Casspir, which seats 14 including a driver, can be taken to scenes in which a citizen or an officer has been shot or the SWAT team needs to guard against a suspect who is believed to be armed.
The turbo-charged, diesel-powered truck can travel up to 60 mph and has a generator that can be switched on, making for a quieter entrance.
The Murrieta police SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactical) team has been in existence since 1995 and currently consists of 16 sworn, trained officers and four Fire Department tactical medical personnel.
The closest armored vehicle is in Hemet, Conrad said, and is a Lenco Bearcat owned by the Hemet Police Department. The two agencies have been exchanging mutual aid when it comes to SWAT action for several years.
In addition to serving Murrieta, the armored truck can be used for mutual aid needed in nearby cities of Temecula, Wildomar, Lake Elsinore and Menifee, Conrad said.
“This is a regional asset, not just for the city of Murrieta, but a regional asset.”