The East Cascade SWAT Team is getting a new emergency response vehicle. 

The Wenatchee City Council has voted to pay nearly $400,000 for a Bearcat armored vehicle.  

Wenatchee Police Chief Steve Crown says the Bearcat fits the SWAT team's need for a heavy-duty vehicle that isn't designed for military use. 

“It is a specific to law enforcement vehicle with a lot more capabilities that are designed for law enforcement and not military.” 

Wenatchee will be reimbursed for about 70 percent of the Bearcat's cost by Chelan and Douglas counties along with East Wenatchee, which are the other members of the East Cascade SWAT Team. 

The cost breakdown has Wenatchee, Chelan County and Douglas County each paying $112,467.62 with East Wenatchee chipping in $60,000 to cover Bearcat’s cost of $397,402.85. 

Full payment will need to be made within 90 days to lock in the cost. The Bearcat will then be built with a lead time of 12 months for delivery. 

A delivery fee will be paid for by the East Cascade SWAT Team’s joint funding account. The vehicle will be registered and insured by the city of Wenatchee and the Wenatchee Police Department.  

The Bearcat is intended to offer the defense and technology required for high level emergency situations without the military features no longer favored for domestic use.  

Crown says it'll replace the SWAT team's current military surplus vehicle, known as an MRAP. 

“Moving forward, I think this has got far better capabilities and technology,” Crown said. “It provides ample protection for our team, similar to what military vehicles do, but certainly more in line with what local law enforcement needs.” 

There’s been increasing criticism of the use of military surplus vehicles in domestic settings in the United States in recent years. 

In 2021 the Washington State Legislature considered a ban on military equipment, including the MRAP now used by the East Cascade SWAT Team. 

In 2022, an executive order from the Biden administration nearly resulted in a nationwide ban on the MRAP. 

Meanwhile, the Bearcat armored vehicle does not have the militaristic characteristics that would put it in danger of state or federal legislation or an executive order. 

Crown also said the Bearcat is just more practical in numerous ways, including travel time. He told the Wenatchee City Council that the Bearcat could travel to a call in Brewster at highway speeds whereas an MRAP would struggle to keep up with traffic. 

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