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Why cops need armored vehicles: 13 times BearCats saved lives

Armored vehicles are not tanks – they are vehicles of refuge that serve to protect police and civilians alike


BearCats are designed to protect the lives of victims, officers and even suspects.

Image Courtesy of Lenco

Knights of old often donned armor to face those who threatened the peace of the realm. Knights even found it necessary to place armor on their trusty steeds when a battle was imminent. Modern knights – police officers – also wear armor. We wear Kevlar. Sometimes we ride to the scenes of conflict, confusion, and confrontation – not on armored horses, but in armored BearCats.

Critics complaining about “police militarization” have called Lenco BearCats “tanks” – this not only shows a lack of knowledge of the nature of a tank, but it misrepresents the Lenco BearCat.

BearCats are not weapons of destruction. They are vehicles for rescue and refuge.

Proof of life

BearCats are designed to protect the lives of victims, officers and even suspects. Here are but a few of the many examples of this “proof of life” which are ignored by the critics.

1. February 16, 2006: The Dallas SWAT team was attempting to serve a federal warrant on a suspect when he shot four officers. Tactical team members maneuvered the BearCat to allow for the safe rescue from the deadly environment and treatment of the wounded officers.

2. March 31, 2009: In the woods of central Wisconsin, a suspect sniped at police from his home, which he had turned into an armored fortress. In the days that followed, the sniper continually tried to kill officers by firing countless rounds and throwing homemade firebombs from his up-armored domicile.

At the climax of this event, officers – protected by multiple BearCats – took the suspect into custody after hitting him with less-lethal munitions as the armed suspect was escaping down a ladder to the rear of his burning home. No officers were injured.

3. February 2, 2011: The Aurora (Colo.) area was inundated with 20 inches of snow. Wind gusts formed drifts of up to ten feet deep, making roads impassable. During this crisis, motorists found themselves trapped by the Arctic conditions – with hope for rescue dropping as fast as the temperature.

When all seemed lost, the trapped motorists heard the roar of an engine and saw a black mass of metal cutting a swath through the white landscape. Police officers in a BearCat were able to rescue 108 stranded motorists. The cold hard metal on wheels provided the two things these people were praying for: warmth and a ride home.

4. March 31 2011: The San Juan County Sheriff’s Office SWAT team deployed in Farmington (N.M.) in response to a barricaded gunman. During the event, the suspect leaned across the team’s BearCat and pointed a semi-automatic rifle at three officers inside the vehicle. Rather than shoot the suspect, officers fired a TASER through the gun port of the vehicle and took the man into custody. This less-than-lethal option was feasible only because of the tactical flexibility afforded by the BearCat.

5. August 7, 2011: Green Bay (Wis.) officers located a man who had been firing a gun throughout a residential neighborhood. The suspect opened fire on the officers, but the officers were able to negotiate with him from the cover afforded by their BearCat.

After a seven-hour stand-off, the shooter was subdued with less-lethal munitions.

6. September 20, 2011: In Hockington (Wash.), Clark County Sheriff’s Deputies arrived on scene to deal with a man who had been shooting at a house as he sat in a tree. Negotiators were transported close enough to speak with the man via the agency’s BearCat. After three hours of successful negotiations, the troubled man climbed down from his perch and surrendered.

7. March 6, 2012: In Harrisonburg (Penn.), the York County Quick Response Team and the Dauphin County Sheriff’s Office deployed at the scene of a barricaded gunman. The BearCat was moved into a position where officers were able to push in two windows.

The man was taken into custody after he was shot with less-lethal munitions.

8. April 14, 2013: The Rutheford County (Tenn.) Sheriff’s SWAT team was able to evacuate a neighborhood in Smyrna after a barricaded suspect opened fire, endangering all. One disabled resident was safely removed from the kill zone. Officers then saved the suspect from his own death by subduing him with less-lethal munitions.

9. December 9, 2013: A suspect opened fire in a neighborhood with a 50 caliber rifle – endangering citizens far and wide. Fond Du Lac (Wis.) officers were able to use a BearCat to evacuate innocents from the kill zone and set up for negotiations. Negotiators convinced the suspects to surrender without loss of life.

10. March 14, 2014: A suspect opened fire throughout a neighborhood and specifically at officers inside their BearCat. Officers of the Bakersfield PD SWAT team were able to rescue and evacuate 60 citizens in the line of fire.

11. January 31, 2014: In Laingsburg (Mich.), a gunman shot wildly into a neighborhood. When the Michigan SP Emergency Support Team arrived, the suspect deliberately shot four rounds from a Russian-made Nagant – a 7.62X54 rifle – striking an occupied BearCat. No officers were injured.

12. June 2, 2014: In Williston (Fla.), the Marion County SWAT team responded to an armed and violent man. They were protected by their BearCat as the suspect fired 20 rounds from an SKS rifle at the vehicle.

13. August 21, 2014: In Dickinson (N.D.), the Southwest Tactical Unit was attempting to apprehend a fugitive wanted by the FBI. Members of the unit along with a negotiator pulled into a driveway. The spectacle of the BearCat inspired the suspect’s surrender within one minute of its arrival.


Police today must absorb the critique of the sharp-tongued pseudo-experts and yet hit the streets each day bound and determined to do some good. It is essential that police officers are afforded the protective armor BearCats provide – using this essential equipment has become a common tactic because it is common sense.


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Lt. Dan Marcou is an internationally-recognized police trainer who was a highly-decorated police officer with 33 years of full-time law enforcement experience. Marcou’s awards include Police Officer of the Year, SWAT Officer of the Year, Humanitarian of the Year and Domestic Violence Officer of the Year. Upon retiring, Lt. Marcou began writing. Additional awards Lt. Marcou received were 15 departmental citations (his department’s highest award), two Chief’s Superior Achievement Awards and the Distinguished Service Medal for his response to an active shooter. He is a co-author of “Street Survival II, Tactics for Deadly Encounters,” which is now available. His novels, “The Calling, the Making of a Veteran Cop,” “SWAT, Blue Knights in Black Armor,” “Nobody’s Heroes” and Destiny of Heroes,” as well as his latest non-fiction offering, “Law Dogs, Great Cops in American History,” are all available at Amazon. Dan is a member of the Police1 Editorial Advisory Board.