By Erik Walsh
The News Staff
The Henderson County Sheriff’s Office will soon have quick access to its own armored vehicle.
Tuesday, County Commissioners approved the purchase of a BearCat, the same kind of vehicle borrowed from the Tyler Police Department in 2010.
The BearCat served Athens well when it was used to confront survivalist Howard Todd Granger in a four-hour police standoff, in October, 2010.
Granger fired about 100 rounds from an AK-47 at the armored vehicle before getting taken down by a well-aimed sniper round. Not a single round fired at the SWAT team penetrated the vehicle, including the windows.
Sheriff Ray Nutt argued that in an emergency situation, the three hours or more it takes to do the paperwork and get the vehicle from Tyler could cost an officer’s life.
“We have a great working relationship with Tyler,” Nutt said, “but if there is an injured officer we need the vehicle quickly to extract him before its too late.”
Nutt added that BearCats are even protected underneath from grenade explosions. The BearCat will cost $132,000.
The 2010 incident was not without financial consequence to the county. Henderson County paid a hefty bill to repair damage the vehicle.
Nutt told Commissioners the County could have its own BearCat by July, if approved now.
BearCat is an acronym, standing for Ballistic Engineered Armored Response Counter Attack Truck.
Precinct 4 Commissioner Ken Geeslin was vocal in his agreement.
“I think it’s a wise decision to invest in one of them,” he said.