SMITHFIELD, N.C. (WNCN) – As the San Bernadino and Colorado Springs active shooter situations dramatically emphasize, law enforcement agencies need to be ready to deal with active shooters and terrorism incidents anywhere.
And in Johnston County, the Sheriff’s Department has a vehicle it hopes it never has to use – the Bearcat armored transport rescue vehicle.
“Not only is it for the peace keepers — the deputy sheriffs, the law enforcement officers that load up to provide public safety — but it’s also a rescue vehicle to bring victims from a danger zone,” Johnston County Sheriff Steve Bizzell said.
Bizzell just took delivery of a $275,000 vehicle, which was paid for entirely with forfeited drug money. In California and in Colorado, units like these became lifelines for both rescued victims and the officers tasked with dealing with the situation.
“It’s kind of like a fire truck or an EMS truck or even a funeral home—nobody appreciates them until they need them,” Bizzell said.
When it was just days old, the Johnston County Bearcat was sent to a standoff that was safely diffused where a man threatened to not only commit suicide but shoot the deputies who responded.
But Bizzell hopes the unit is now based here in Johnston County and he hopes that its sits idle.
“I hope we never use this vehicle again,” he said. “I hope it sets in the barn and we only use it for training. That’s my wish.”