Sheriff's Office receives military-grade Hummer

Wednesday, November 13, 2013
Ready to roll Barry County Sheriff Mick Epperly is pictured above with the department's newly received 1991 Humvee, donated by the Department of Defense. The unit will be used to transport the department's SWAT team and gear in high-risk situations, as well as navigate highways and backroads in inclement weather. Democrat photo/Roberts

Last week, the Barry County Sheriff's Office received a military-grade 1991 Humvee for use in emergencies such as stand-offs between suspects and law enforcement officials, school emergencies and inclement weather.

"It was donated, free of charge, by the Department of Defense on a first come, first served basis," said Sheriff Mick Epperly. "It's in really good shape, has new tires and runs well."

The diesel-run Humvee is four-wheel drive, automatic and bare-bones efficient.

"We need to install a radio for communications and we are set to go," Epperly said. "It won't take much to get it up to par."

Epperly said the vehicle would serve the county well in events such as heavy snowfall or flooding.

"It's heavier than the patrol cars and will go places a pickup truck [driver] wouldn't think about," he said. "I also plan to have the SWAT team utilize this vehicle when they are called out. It will hold all eight team members and their gear."

The tires are equipped to re-inflate for up to 200 miles after being punctured in the field.

"That's really good," Epperly said. "We will use the Humvee for marijuana eradications and forest searches and other places where the terrain isn't good."

Epperly said he applied for the vehicle several months ago and the county was lucky to have been chosen to receive one of the retired military units.

"McDonald County got two and we got one," Epperly said. "It will do what we need."

Epperly said he intends to leave the vehicle its original military camouflage color.

"We might put decals on it, label it as belonging to the Barry County Sheriff's Office, but I think we'll just leave it as it is for now."

In addition to responding to the county's worst-case scenarios, the vehicle will receive high-profile publicity in upcoming parades and other community events.

In addition, the department has also invested in two 2013 Ford Explorer SUVs, with another ordered.

"Typical patrol cars are getting smaller all the time," Epperly said. "There's not enough leg room in them. These larger vehicles will not only allow from driver comfort, they will hold all the gear we need to transport when we're on a call."

That includes weapons, safety vests, road flares and other essential items officers use in responding to calls ranging from motor-vehicle crashes to domestic disturbances.

The new vehicles bring the sheriff department's fleet up to 20 vehicles -- for now.

"We are phasing out the older, high-mileage vehicles," Epperly said. "That will help knock down maintenance costs for the department."

Epperly said the new additions will be more cost-friendly to the county taxpayers as far as economy an durability. The new vehicles get just under two miles per gallon less than the Dodge Chargers currently in use.

"We're looking to use the best, economical vehicle that works for us," Epperly said. "These Explorers are also all-wheel drive vehicles, allowing us to respond in areas where the patrol cars would have difficulty navigating."

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