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Weapons, ammo approved for armored vehicles

BCPD BearCat vehicle. (Courtesy of City Bossier City)

The Bossier City Police and Fire Departments are equipping each of their armored vehicles to protect first responders in an active shooter scenario.

The Bossier City Council approved an ordinance last week that will allow the departments to buy weapons and ammunition for the vehicles.

At its regular meeting April 3, the council adopted an ordinance appropriating up to $75,000 to purchase a mounted weapons system and ammunition. The money will come from the city’s 2018 EMS Capital and Contingency Fund.

Fire Chief Brad Zagone told the council at its March 20 meeting that the mounted weapons system will go on top of the two armored vehicles that will provide protection while emergency personnel are working in an active shooter situation.

“The intent is for defensive purposes for first responders. Hopefully we’ll never have to use it, but it’s nice to have in the pool just in case,” said Bossier City Public Information Officer Mark Natale.

Natale said the need to acquire the vehicles, both purchased from Lenco Armored Vehicles, came in response to national events.

“It’s the whole proliferation of active shooters scenarios we’ve seen as of late — there was the Orlando, (Fla.) nightclub shooting and the school shooting in Connecticut, but the Las Vegas scenario was really what got us to make the move.”

The weapons consist of three units: two Machine Gun Armory (MGA) 300 Blackout squad automatic weapons to be mounted on the vehicles at a cost of $9,998 each, and an MGA SAW-K 300 Blackout for $13,998, which is a portable version of the mounted gun that can be mounted or carried.

BCFD Armored Medical Transport Vehicle (Courtesy of City of Bossier City)

Ammunition that is being bought is 10,000 rounds of .556 and 5,000 rounds of 300 Blackout. This includes conversion kits for all three weapons for the purpose of training.

The weapons systems would be manned by designated police officers who have received two-day course training in the weapons. The weapons will also be in possession of, and maintained by the Bossier City PD.

The police department has had its armored vehicle for more than a year, a BearCat. In October of last year, the fire department received approval from the council to use up to $375,000 to purchase a BearCat MedEvac. It arrived approximately two weeks ago.

“We’ve been doing active shooter training across the parish across the past few years,” said Natale. “The fire department has been doing armored medical transport unit trading to familiarize personnel with the vehicle and BOHSEP (Bossier Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness) has organized active shooter scenario drills for police to train with the BearCat.”

“That training will continue. It has to, unfortunately,” he added.

The new MedEvac is intended to be used as an armored medical transport vehicle, meaning the fire department has the ability to retrieve victims safely without interfering with police efforts to handle countering the scenario.

“This is not an armored ambulance, it is not taking people to the hospital. Emergency medical personnel are going into ‘hot zones’ to get injured people out and getting those people to a staging area away from danger to where they can be transported to a hospital by an ambulance,” Natale clarified.

He also noted that the BearCat can be, and has been used, by police for non-active shooter scenarios. Since it arrived, it has been used to in situations where individuals have threatened harm on themselves in their homes and even in flooding situations.

“It can be used in other scenarios, depending on the scenario. We’ve had it come out in a couple of situations where a single individual was barricaded in a residence, and it can be used as in high-water because of its clearance,” Natale said.

The ammunition and weapons are subject to a purchase order review by the ATF that can take up to three months. Natale expects it to arrive this summer.

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Sean Green is managing editor of the Bossier Press-Tribune.