HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) – Originally designed for the U.S. Army, an armored vehicle is being re-purposed for the Horry County Police Department.
While discussing the new vehicle, Chief Saundra Rhodes addressed recent issues across the country, such as Ferguson, Missouri and New York City. The chief wants to be completely transparent with the public about exactly how the Horry County Police Department plans to use the new armored vehicle.
Known as a Caiman Vehicle, the 60,728 pound vehicle holds up to ten people and is a high-mobility, heavily-armored vehicle designed to meet the mission requirements of the U.S. Army.
It was given to the police department through the 1033 Program which is designed specifically to work with law enforcement agencies to get aircraft, technical armored vehicles, watercraft and other equipment which many police departments may be unable to afford.
“We're calling it Rescue One, because of its intended use, because of its mission,” explained Chief Rhodes.
It is Chief Rhodes' mission to explain to the community that the heavily armored military vehicle will be used primarily for rescue efforts.
“In case we were to have a natural disaster we would have the ability to reach stranded victims,” said Chief Rhodes.
It can drive into three feet of water and, at ten feet tall, is tall enough to assist in second story or even roof rescues.
“It can be used to transport doctors and nurses,” added Chief Rhodes.
It is designed to operate in harsh terrains, emergency responders could still get those doctors and nurses to a hospital in a serious disaster. The armored exterior would help police during active shooter situations or for the bomb team.
“We do have the robot in place, but we do have occasions where we need to get a closer look at that piece. I do not want to place the team in any unnecessary danger,” explained Chief Rhodes.
She added, “I believe the benefits far outweigh the liabilities of having it.”
Some of those concerns the chief addressed included how the public views military-style equipment being used by police. She stresses this vehicle will not be used for crowd control or military-style policing.
When asked directly about the role this vehicle will play during events such as Memorial Day weekend, Chief Rhodes was quick to say "none." She explained that unless something happens that this vehicle is specifically intended for, such as an active shooter or rescue mission, it will not be used during large-scale events.