Anytime a large, bulletproof, black vehicle rolls down the street, it is bound to turn a few heads.
On July 31, the Payson Police Department slowly (since it only hits 35 mph at top speed) drove its armored vehicle (ARV) out of the old town yard near Green Valley Park and out onto the sleepy streets of Payson.
More than a few concerned residents wondered where this vehicle had come from and where it was going.
Police Chief Don Engler explained they had hoped to display the tank-like vehicle at the National Night Out celebration in the park, however, due to rain, the event was canceled and the ARV put away.
PPD received the ARV more than a year ago from the Phoenix Police Department, who donated it after buying a new one. After a little hard work from volunteers, the ARV, formerly a Dodge pickup, was ready for use.
Luckily, Engler said, they have not had to use it in an emergency. But, if an event, like the shooting of late Police Chief David Wilson in September 1992 happened again, they would have a way to enter a hostile situation under cover.
“We are a long ways out and we have to handle a situation for up to four to six hours before we get additional help,” Engler said.
Currently, the PPD has seven members on its SWAT team. In the event of a major event, it can take hours before tactical teams from surrounding areas respond.
The ARV allows officers the ability to safely get up close in an emergency.
Besides the ARV, the PPD recently acquired four Hummers free from a military surplus.
Engler plans to convert one Hummer into a patrol vehicle and use the other for the D.A.R.E. program.
The other Hummers will be donated to the Payson Fire Department and Gila County Sheriff’s Office.
Engler says he has concerns using a Hummer for patrol considering they are difficult to back up, use a lot of gas and due to their wide width, could block access to a narrow street. Engler said he hasn’t decided what he will do with the patrol Hummer, but may use it during the winter with a snowplow attachment.