Your Views: Bearcat vehicle shouldn't be part of political debate

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Monday, July 21, 2014

I was truly disappointed last Wednesday to hear that the joint purchase of the Bearcat (by the Rock County Sheriff's Office and Janesville and Beloit's police departments) and the robot for the Rock County SWAT team became such contentious issues in the sheriff's race. As a person with 16 years of SWAT experience, I know first-hand what it is like to enter the “kill zone,” getting into position to contain and address a potentially deadly threat. As hard as that was, it was even harder to see our current SWAT team members taking those risks when we knew more could be done to protect those who were protecting us.

For that reason, I strongly supported both of these purchases. The Bearcat is simply an armored vehicle that protects SWAT members who are entering dangerous areas to handle the most serious incidents that occur within our community. Despite Gary Groelle's description of this vehicle as a “tank,” it should be noted that it does not have (in layman's terms) a big gun and, therefore, that term strikes me as misleading and inflammatory political rhetoric.

The robot is also an important piece of safety equipment that can provide critical information to tactical decision makers about what is going on inside of a dangerous location without risking the lives of SWAT team members. I am incredibly appreciative of Sheriff Robert Spoden's willingness to place the safety of our dedicated SWAT team members above concerns for political gain.



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