We are 100 percent behind keeping our law enforcement officers safe and providing them with the best technology available.

A couple of issues were discussed at this week’s Marinette County Public Services Committee meeting and we think they are worthy of further mention.

The first issue, one that goes back about five years, is the possible addition of a BearCat for the sheriff’s department. A BearCat is large, armored vehicle designed for military or law enforcement use.

Some say it’s excessive machinery a small department doesn’t need. Those in favor believe it can be essential for officers’ safety.

BearCats have been used during mass shootings. They can be used during standoff situations, evacuating a classroom or executing a search warrant on a drug dealer.

Back in 2014, Marinette County supervisors budgeted a little more than $250,000 to include a BearCat in the 2015 Capital Improvement Plan, but it was removed about a month later.

We editorialized in favor of a BearCat because we are convinced it will help law enforcement officers stay safe.

“This vehicle will transport officers into dangerous situations and allow for better positioning when they pursue armed and dangerous offenders,” we wrote five years ago.

We still believe a BearCat is important to the sheriff’s department. We also realize the machinery is costly (Sheriff Jerry Sauve said this week its likely cost now is about $300,000).

There must be a way Marinette County can partner with another agency.

County Board Chairman Mark Anderson, who is not a member of the Public Services Committee, brought that idea up this week. Sauve said nearby Langlade County has its own BearCat, while Oconto County has a MRAP (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected) vehicle.

Back in 2014, Sauve said a partnership would not work because there would be questions where it would be housed and what would happen if both departments needed it at the same time.

Sauve said this week that he has approached the City of Marinette about a partnership in some type of vehicle, but they are not in position to partner.

Regarding the MRAPs, the sheriff told the panel this week that they are big, slow and heavy and “don’t really meet our needs.”

We remain convinced a BearCat would be an asset to local law enforcement. We hope those who hold the purse strings think about this purchase at budget time.

Anderson pointed out that, despite the cost, protecting officers is important. “It’s not a matter anymore if there’s going to be a shooting, it seems like it’s a matter of when. We need to protect you guys,” he said.

We could not agree more. It’s only right that we provide the utmost safety for those who protect us every day.

The other issue brought up this week was providing video cameras in all 33 sheriff’s department patrol cars. Sauve said only about one-third of squads are equipped with the cameras.

The sheriff said each camera costs about $5,000. That means it would cost about $100,000 to equip the remaining squads. We believe that would be money well spent.

Every traffic stop and every call officers make is potentially a dangerous situation. It’s vital they have cameras in place to record everything that happens.

Supervisor Glenn Broderick emphasized that equipment like a BearCat and video cameras would help improve morale in law enforcement.

Sauve said he’s prepared to talk more about these issues at budget time. We hope there’s meaningful discussion and something can be done to improve safety for our officers.