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Natrona County Sheriff’s Office unveils new armored personnel vehicle (PHOTOS)

The Natrona County Sheriff's Office shows its Lenco BearCat armored vehicle to media on Friday, Jan. 24, 2020 in Mills. (Dan Cepeda, Oil City)

CASPER, Wyo. – Natrona County Sheriff department’s newest vehicle has all the latest gizmos.

A back-up camera, front and back air conditioning, and USB ports for phone charging are among them.

It also weighs 22,000 pounds and can safely protect its occupants from every commercially available ballistic round.

“This is the latest generation of armored vehicles,” said Natrona County Sheriff’s Office Lieutenant John Harlin.

The vehicle is a Lenco BearCat, a fully-armored personnel vehicle the sheriff’s office recently ordered directly from the Lenco’s Massachusetts factory.

Natrona County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Sean Ellis exits a new Lenco BearCat armored vehicle during a media demonstration on Friday, Jan. 24, in Mills. (Dan Cepeda, Oil City)

“The primary use of this armored vehicle is for the Special Response Team as they respond to critical incidences in Natrona County and throughout the region,” said Harlin.

The BearCat can be used in many scenarios, ranging from violent public threats to natural disasters. Its off-road capabilities allows it to cover wide variety of terrain, including driving over fallen trees, according to Harlin.

Lenco’s website says the vehicle can protect occupants from various small arms fire, explosives and IED threats.

The vehicle will replace three smaller, 80s-era Peacekeeper units in the fleet, said Harlin.

Two of the NCSO three Peacekeeper armored vehicles are shown in the city garage in Mills. The new BearCat will replace all three of the older military surpluss units, which date to the early-80s. (Dan Cepeda, Oil City)

While the older units were decades-old repurposed military surplus, the BearCat is specifically designed for local law enforcement, according to Harlin.

While the BearCat is hand-built in Lenco’s factory, it’s placed upon a basic Ford F-550 chassis. In practical terms, it means all service and maintenance can be performed by any qualified Ford technician. “You don’t have any proprietary parts you need to find,” said Harlin.

Harlins says eleven officers can fit in the unit, and up to 20 people can be “crammed” into the vehicle in a rescue situation. In spite of its size and weight, it’s relatively easy and comfortable to drive, said Harlin, and can safely travel up to 65 mph.

The replacement project was funded in cooperation with the Board of County Commissioners though 1-cent tax funding, said Harlin. The cost of the vehicle, along with custom decals and officer training, came to $337,758.