The Marinette Police Department is poised to get a BearCat next year. We think that is great news as that piece of equipment will be a huge benefit to officers.

The city’s Finance & Insurance Committee last month voted in favor of budgeting funds for the tactical vehicle. Lt. Joe Nault told the panel his department is looking to secure a $55,000 USDA grant to be put toward the purchase of a refurbished BearCat.

Another $80,000 would be put in the 2020 budget. The committee recommended the financial moves, but city council approval is still necessary.

For those unfamiliar, a BearCat is a heavy-armored vehicle that can be used in standoff, hostage and similar dangerous situations. BearCat is actually an acronym for Ballistic Engineered Armored Response Counter Attack Truck.

The term BearCat in this area surfaced several years ago when Marinette County Sheriff Jerry Sauve tried to secure the vehicle for his department. He came close in the summer of 2014 when the county board voted to include the purchase of the BearCat for $252,000 in the county’s 2015 Capital Improvement Plan. A month later, it was removed from the plan.

We have stated before that we are firmly behind the purchase of a BearCat. Anything that helps with the safety of law enforcement is worthwhile.

Those men and women put their lives on the line and every day. Dangerous situations can happen, in fact they have happened, many times in this area.

At last month’s finance meeting, Nault gave a presentation on the city’s tactical response unit (TRU). He pointed out that since it formed in 2004, it has had 42 documented call-outs.

Nault explained to the panel that in 2018, the TRU added a rescue task force (RTF) to its membership, which provides first aid and recovery for citizens and potential suspects involved in TRU deployment cases.

The police department partnered with Bay Area Medical Center last year and the paramedic unit goes on every TRU call.

A main problem is the current response vehicle for TRU and the RTF is a 10-year-old unarmed van. That’s simply not acceptable when responding to potentially dangerous situations.

We agree with Ward 2 Alderman Jeff Skorik, a former Marinette police chief, in his assessment. “I think this is a good opportunity,” he said. “I’ve seen our officers in action. They never ask why, they just go. …”

Nault said the closet armored vehicle is in Brown County and that vehicle is “up here more than it is down there.” That alone shows the need for such a vehicle in this area.

Because the USDA grant stipulates that the BearCat must be purchased by a municipality with a population of 30,000 or less, combining with Marinette County is not an option.

Nault said shared ownership “makes him nervous” because questions of storage and maintenance come into play.

We agree with the police department seeking the purchase of this vehicle and we believe the city council should be on board. We would like to see some type of partnership with Marinette County explored. In today’s dangerous world, a BearCat is needed.