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Omaha city council OK’s new armored vehicle for police department

“This is not a tank. This is a replacement vehicle,” one councilman said after receiving public criticism regarding the purchase

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Lenco Armored Vehicles

By Ashley Silver

OMAHA, Neb. — Omaha city council members recently approved the purchase of a $341,678 Lenco BearCat G3 armored vehicle for the Omaha Police Department amid both positive and negative perceptions.

According to KAKE News, the BearCat will replace the current armored vehicle used by Omaha SWAT, which was acquired in 2006.

The proposal received some pushback from the public, with Omaha Deputy Chief Scott Gray and Lt. Jake Ritonya taking to the podium at a recent city council meeting to strongly advocate for the purchase and argue against negativity shared on social media.

Tweets from State Sen. Megan Hunt questioned the cost and need for the vehicle.

“No police department in Nebraska needs an armored vehicle. This is a waste of taxpayer money and an affront to public trust,” Hunt tweeted.

Ritonya explained the important role armored vehicles play in protecting officers.

“Omaha Police have used the vehicle 137 times in the past year, often for high-risk warrants, barricades, hostage rescue or event security,” he said. “The department’s current vehicle is 17 years old and encountering some serious maintenance issues.”

“It is not in any way some kind of offensive military vehicle like it’s been portrayed by some,” Gray added during the meeting.

Omaha councilman Brinker Harding felt the purchase would promote public safety: “This is not a tank. This is a replacement vehicle.”

The armored vehicle will take a year to build, with an expected debut of early 2024.

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