EVANSVILLE – As part of the emergency response to this week’s winter storm that blanketed the area, the Vanderburgh County Sheriff’s Office sent out three Humvees it acquired this year from the military.
“(Our deputies) found them to be a great, useful tool for us," Sheriff Eric Williams said. “We went places that we would’ve otherwise struggled, or not even tried to get to and waited. Some of those roads in the wide open parts of the country can get 5 or 6 inches of snow and then drift for a couple of feet.”
Williams said his agency got the three vehicles, along with a military transport truck, through a military surplus program open to law enforcement agencies.
The military retains ownership of the items given to departments, though local agencies are responsible for expenses such as registration fees and insurance. There is also a “nominal” subscription fee to remain part of the program, Williams told the Evansville Courier & Press (http://bit.ly/10sedaD).
Williams also noted that local officials had to go pick up the vehicles. Two of them came from a base in Alabama while two came from a base in Missouri. The vehicles were just some of the items offered through the program.
“It ranges from cars and trucks to cots, sleeping bags, and gas masks. Sometimes you’ll see weapons. We’ve seen boats and helicopters, all kinds of stuff on there,” Williams said. “Most of it is stuff we’d never use, but we’ve been looking for a few of these types of vehicles to have around so they’d be available in instances just like we had (Wednesday).
Williams said the transport vehicle, which is equipped with six-wheel drive and can haul 20 to 24 people, was not used Wednesday. However, it could have been used if several drivers had been stranded in one place.
The vehicle can easily navigate through several feet of water and could be used if a widespread emergency flooding evacuation arises, Williams added.
Though the military-green paint job remains on the transport vehicle, the three Humvees were repainted black and have a sheriff’s office logo on them so that people can easily identify them as civilian law enforcement vehicles. Williams also acknowledged that the office likes showing them off, as well.
“People love seeing them,” he said. “They’ve been a big hit when we’ve taken them out places.”
Williams said that the vehicles will be available for situations around the area, if the need arises.
“The Evansville Police Department knows, the suburban fire departments know, our neighboring counties know, if they need them, they just call us and they’re theirs,” he said. “We’ll get them to them.
"We’re very fortunate to have gotten four pretty nice pieces of equipment. They’re in pretty good shape and have a lot of years left on them.”