CHARLESTON, W.Va. - County law enforcement officers can now feel a little more secure when they head straight into a dangerous confrontation, like the one that involved a gun-wielding Charleston attorney earlier this week.
The Kanawha County Sheriff's Department recently added an armored vehicle to its SWAT team. It's called a BearCat.
In the incident involving attorney Mark Bramble, who was allegedly firing shots from his Sherwood Forest home, the SWAT team drove the BearCat straight up to the front door of the house.
Sgt. Jason Launi could be seen in the vehicle's turret. Inside were Capt. Sean Crosier and Lt. K.A. Vititoe.
Vititoe said of the new vehicle, "I've worked on this for 10 years. It took that long. People finally came to the realization as to why something like this is important."
The BearCat is a four-wheel drive, diesel-powered vehicle with a 397-horsepower engine, battering ram, bullet-resistant glass and the capacity to hold up to 10 officers. It is equipped with two remote-controlled cameras, searchlights and an intercom system.
The vehicle enables officers to get closer in a high-risk crisis situation. And it helps protect them as they do.
Vititoe said, "It is used when officers are coming under fire, if we feel gunfire is going to be involved. It stops most commercially available weaponry."
The price tag was $276,000.
"We intend this to be a long-term investment," Vititoe said. "How much does a human life cost? It has the potential to save a lot of lives."