LISBON - Two months after receiving a donated armored personnel carrier from the U.S. military, the Columbiana County Sheriff's Office has added two Humvees.
Chief Deputy Sheriff Allen Haueter said they took possession of the donated Humvees last week, one of which is to be given to the county Emergency Management Agency.
The Humvees, which Haueter referred to as "a glorified Jeep" - which they were built to replace in the 1980s - came from a military depot at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton.
This Humvee is one of two that was donated to the Columbiana County Sheriff’s Office. (Submitted Photo)
"They've been giving Humvees away for a long time even while the wars (in Iraq and Afghanistan) were going on," he said. These two Humvees were built in 1989 and reconditioned in 2002. They have about 32,000 miles each on them.
The four-wheel drive Humvee has a V-8 diesel engine and can hold up to eight people. Haueter said the one Humvee will primarily be for the county Drug Task Force to use when going off road, although he can envision it transporting agents in other situations as needed.
Although the sheriff's office has a couple of SUVs with 4WD, Haueter they would rather not use them off road unless necessary. He said having a Humvee at their disposal will eliminate that problem.
Humvees can safely travel through up to 30 inches of water, "but I've seen pictures of these things up to their bumper when crossing water," Haueter said.
As mentioned above, the EMA will receive the other Humvee, which will be used primarily to haul the trailer for a 600-kilowatt portable generator recently obtained with federal Homeland Security money. Haueter said the EMA did not have anything strong enough to haul the utility trailer and generator but the Humvee can.
The sheriff's office found out about the giveaway program recently through Randy Schneider, one of their part-time dispatchers who also serves in the U.S. Air Force Reserve, and decided to take advantage. The sheriff's office will next try to acquire a military trailer pulled by Humvees.
"It'll tow about anything you need. It's pretty versatile," Haueter said.
In June, the sheriff's office received a mine-resistant ambush-protected (MRAP) armored-personnel carrier as part of the U.S. military program to donate surplus weapons, gear and vehicles to law enforcement agencies of all sizes. At the time, the media reported there is a growing controversy over this practice, which some critics see it as militarization of local police departments.
The issue has been raised recently because of the police response to the rioting in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, where police officers in military gear and weaponry patroled the streets until the governor replaced them with the state highway patrol. When the rioting continued, the National Guard was called in.
Haueter and his boss, Sheriff Ray Stone, said these vehicles will be used to protect their deputies in certain situations, such as a standoff with an armed person or hostage situations.
"This is just free stuff for local law enforcement for law enforcement purposes," he said. "You check around and everyone has them and for longer."
"It is a nice addition to our fleet and all it cost us was gas" needed to drive them up from Dayton, Haueter said of the Humvees.