By Lethbridge Herald on January 25, 2024.
Alejandra Pulido-Guzman – LETHBRIDGE HERALD – firstname.lastname@example.org
The Lethbridge Police Service recently acquired a new Armoured Rescue Vehicle (ARV) to better protect members of the public and officers alike during violent high-risk incidents.
LPS Chief Shahin Mehdizadeh on Wednesday said this was a necessary purchase to keep everyone safe because the previous vehicle didn’t meet industry standards.
“This is part of the modernization of the police service. Now we’re providing our employees with the proper tools so they can do their job safely and go home to their families, and this also is an equipment that is going to help us keep our citizens safe,” said Mehdizadeh.
He compared the ARV to having a set of steel-toed boots while working in a factory – a piece of equipment that will protect the worker while doing their job, but on a much bigger scale.
“This is an armoured vehicle which means it is bullet-proof, so it’s a bullet proof shell that our tactical unit can actually get inside and that can safely take them to the location they need to go,” said Mehdizadeh.
He explained the older rescue unit that was deployed with the tactical unit was an old Brinks vehicle which was purchased by LPS many years ago.
“It had a hard time even starting at times, it was very old, and it certainly needed replacement so that’s what this equipment is going to replace,” said Mehdizadeh.
He added that the older vehicle was not fully bullet-proof, leaving officers exposed to potential harm if fired upon through certain areas.
When asked about the price tag Mehdizadeh said nothing is cheap these days, but it was an investment that needed to be done for everyone’s safety.
“The cost for this truck is about $500,000 but when you look at saving human lives we don’t really care about the cost at that time – it is about saving lives and the one positive thing is this equipment is good for 20 years minimum,” said Mehdizadeh.
He said even though it was a big price to pay up front, the ARV is a long-term investment and something the department will have enough time to put money aside for when the next one is required.
Mehdizadeh said the need for such a vehicle has increased.
“Unfortunately, the use of our tactical unit has increased every year. Last year, I believe we used our tactical unit 17 times, which was more than the year before and it seems like a trend,” said Mehdizadeh.
In 2022 and 2023, there were 17 tactical team deployments involving armed, barricaded subjects, high-risk warrant executions and large-scale public protests and demonstrations, compared to 12 in 2021 and five in 2020.
Mehdizadeh emphasized that the ARV is not only to keep officers safe but also the community.
“When we have people shooting and there are victims on the street, this vehicle can be used to provide a protective barrier and shelter so our citizens can be kept safe. This is not just for our officers,” said Mehdizadeh.
He said the ARV can also provide police with a de-escalation tool while attending high-risk incidents because he hopes that when arriving on scene those involved realize that is not something they can get away shooting at. This will provide incentive for people to comply with LPS.
“We hope its presence itself helps de-escalate the situation and we don’t have to fully deploy our resources top deal with a dangerous situation,” said Mehdizadeh.