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Roughly $339,000 invested for new armored vehicle for Boone County Sheriff’s Office


The Boone County Sheriff's Office is getting a new armored vehicle.

Capt. Brian Leer, of the Boone County Sheriff’s Office, said the department has been discussing adding a Lenco BearCat for years, but the Boone County Commission approved a contract to purchase one in 2023.   

Weeks ago, the Boone County Sheriff's Office responded to a standoff where BearCats from the Columbia Police Department and Callaway County Sheriff's Office were used. During the lengthy standoff on June 4 in Sturgeon, gunfire was exchanged between a man and law enforcement numerous times over a several-hour period.

Four years ago, the Sheriff’s Office received an MRAP, a military-grade armored vehicle designed to withstand the effects of explosions, from Pulaski County. However, Leer said that vehicle has several limitations, which have prevented the officer from using it frequently. 

“For one, the MRPA is so heavy. It’s a mine-resistant vehicle. There are bridges we can’t actually cross in Boone County with it, because it’s so heavy," he said. "There are roadways we can’t really do down. When you go off-road you have to take the risk of sinking in because it’s so heavy. It’s also huge.” 

According to Leer, Boone County’s new BearCat will cost roughly $339,000 and will be funded from the Sheriff’s forfeiture fund. For reference, the Columbia Police Department purchased its BearCat for nearly $250,000 in 2013, which was also funded by forfeiture costs.

“If it saves one life, it's worth way more than $339,000. You know what? What kind of price tag can you put on a life?  And that's not only our lives, but it's giving it to people, you know, say we have a hostage or we have some innocent person that we have to go to the rescue,” Leer said.  “We can utilize be utilized to save numerous lives.” 

Columbia Police Department Assistant Chief Lance Bolinger said earlier this month that he believed if CPD’s BearCat was not used, multiple law enforcement officers would have been killed during the standoff in Sturgeon.

The Boone County Sheriff's Office's BearCat was expected to arrive by mid-2024. However, Leer said the federal government had made several orders that take precedence over the local orders. The department is expecting to have it sometime between October and December. 

Each order is customized, depending on the department's needs with more than 50 different features and accessories to choose from. 

“There are different versions that you can get, different accessories, different options you can order it with. So we tried to be as frugal as we could and figure out exactly what we needed,” Leer said. “We made that order in August of 2023.” 

In the meantime, the Sheriff’s Office is still deciding what to do with its MRAP. 

“There are a lot of benefits of maintaining both of them for different aspects,” Leer said. “The MRAP is a mine-resistant, explosion-resistant type of vehicle. So you have that. However, the BearCat will be much more versatile. We'll be able to use it in a lot more situations where we wouldn't be able to use the MRAP,  so they could definitely complement each other.” 

Leer acknowledged that some people may feel the militarization of police is unnecessary. 

“I think the easy answer is: It's it's not about the look. It's about the usefulness and the utilization of the equipment,” Leer said. “As long as we utilize it properly, which there's no doubt in my mind, you know, we are a professional law enforcement agency who strive to do the right thing at the right time, always.  And I think that's going to be the key.”

Check back for updates.

Article Topic Follows: Boone

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Mitchell Kaminski

Mitchell Kaminski is from Wheaton, Illinois. He earned a degree in sports communication and journalism from Bradley University. He has done radio play-by-play and co-hosts a Chicago White Sox podcast.


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