Criminal Justice

Local Ironworker Apprentices Outfit SWAT Vehicles

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April 4, 2014 — The Local Iron Workers 395 Apprenticeship School in Lake Station says it has helped three local police departments save hundreds of thousands of dollars by equipping new SWAT vehicles for only the cost of materials.

Lake Station, Munster and Portage Police so far have taken advantage of a program that allows departments to lease a used armored truck from Brinks Security for $10. In a press release, Portage Police Chief Troy Williams said, “Brinks has a program in which you can get an out-of-service truck that they will lease/sell to a department for $10; and the only caveat to that is whenever you’re done with it you have to give it back to Brinks. So if we have it for 20 years, that’s great, and we’ll return it to them when we no longer need it.”

 The Brinks trucks were then outfitted with numerous upgrades by local ironworker apprentices with each police department paying around $2,500 for materials.

 “The Iron Workers did all the work, and we just had to fund the materials, so that was awesome. If you were to go out and buy a vehicle like this on the market, it’s probably going to cost about $300,000, give or take. We put about $2,500 dollars in materials, the $10 to lease it from Brinks, and then we have an individual who’s donating the paint for it, so for under $3,000 we basically have a tank,” Williams said. “Given today’s world, you see all the active shooter situations. All departments need equipment to get close to an active shooter, and this gives us another tool to do our job.”

 Detective Mike Smith, Lake Station’s SWAT Team leader, said of their truck, “The vehicle is fully armored, and the glass is bulletproof. It also has a bulletproof opening on top where we could put a sniper up there where he’d have some cover behind bulletproof glass. The front passenger seat has been reversed, facing the rear of the vehicle, so that passenger can get out of the back of the vehicle easier in full SWAT gear. The platforms on the sides and the back have been expanded, and the wheels have been covered to protect the officers riding on the sides. Additionally, the front bumper has a battering ram that slides out of the side in case we need to take a fence down or something like that.”

 Master Iron Worker and 395 Instructor Richard Hertaus said, “The nature of our business in iron working is safety. Safety is the number one priority that we’re teaching our apprentices, and in a way, this whole project with these SWAT vehicles is about safety. We’re working to ensure the safety of these officers, who in turn work to protect our entire community.” 

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