Bloomington police buying armored vehicle for heavily armed threats

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- The Bloomington Police department is buying an armored vehicle to help protect officers and civilians from injury, according to the department.

Known as a Critical Incident Response Team vehicle, the CIRT vehicle is a heavy duty truck with plating on both sides, as well as the top and bottom. The CIRT vehicle is a Ford F550, plated with armor. 

BPD's last CERT vehicle was retired in 2012. A Bloomington Police Department news release outlined the following instances where the lack of an armored vehicle increased the danger to officers and others involved: 

  • a stand-off with an armed suicidal suspect on South High Street
  • a confrontation with an armed suspect on Strain Ridge Road
  • an incident on West Vernal Pike where a group of home-invasion robbery suspects had barricaded themselves, and
  • a hostage-taking on South Rogers, which ended with the law enforcement use of lethal force

The CIRT vehicle will be paid for from the Public Safety Income Tax, the same fund that pays for other police vehicles, fire trucks and other equipment. 

The release discussed the expected backlash the department will have when buying the CIRT vehicle. Bloomington Police Department said the following:

Unfortunately some law enforcement agencies around the country have used the vehicles in situations that are seen to have escalated violence rather than protect against violence. Inappropriate use of armored vehicles is a reasonable concern, and the BPD is very sensitive to that concern. In our community such a vehicle will be used only to protect public safety officers and residents in high-risk, violent situations.  

BPD also said it would not be using the CIRT vehicle to respond to protests or demonstrations. 

"The BPD Critical Incident Response Team will employ the armored vehicle only when protecting our people and our community from the realities of highly armed confrontations that occasionally, unfortunately, occur in our region," the release states.

The Bloomington Police Department posted the information about the CIRT vehicle on its Facebook page. Reaction among commenters was mixed. 

Daniel Hough:

"Wow! I didn’t know we had active war zones in Bloomington! I’m glad we can protect ourselves from RPG’s, landmines, IED’s, and short range missile attack’s!!!"

David Sowder:

"I think it’s a good idea anything to keep our city safe. Bloomington isn’t the same town it was 20 years ago. Seams like every time you look at the Newspaper there is a drug bust or some kind of gun violence. If this will keep our officers safe I’m all for it. Will it be available for the Sheriff Officers as well?"

Nate Daniel:

"There have been 15 police officer deaths so far in 2018. 8 in January, 7 in February, and we're only 12 days in to February. For those of you crying foul, where do you work? How many in your profession have been shot and killed simply for wearing a uniform like yours?

Any city, especially one with a large university, has their head in the sand if they don't have at LEAST one of these vehicles. For those of you with the "can't happen here" mentality I hope you're right, but it's sad to see such ignorance."

Jameson Farrell:

"Your department already opted to invest in the equipment, and have no intent on drafting usage guidelines or making them public. What’s left to discuss?"

The department hosted a public discussion Tuesday morning, answering questions about why they needed it. Watch that discussion below:

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