The Big Spring (Texas) Police Department has added an armored emergency response vehicle (AERV) to its fleet, acquired through the U.S. Department of Defense’s 1033 program. The vehicle will be used by the Big Spring Police Department as well as the Howard County Sheriff’s Office SWAT team, Big Spring's chief of police announced via a Facebook post.

The AERV is a four-wheeled vehicle on an International chassis that weighs 38,000 lbs. and provides ballistic protection from handgun and rifle fire. The vehicle is equipped with run-flat tires and an 18,000-lb. winch attached to the front, providing alternatives for the vehicle’s use.

The vehicle is fully equipped with emergency driving equipment and provides a platform to protect officers and the community from high-risk and potentially deadly situations. The AERV is capable of transporting eight to 10 SWAT officers and can also serve as a mobile command if needed. This vehicle will provide ballistic protection in high-risk situations as well as the capability to rescue wounded or downed officers and civilians from positions officers may not otherwise safely approach. The vehicle can also be utilized in high-water rescues where a normal patrol vehicle would not be capable of accessing.

The AERV was previously in use in Afghanistan and had 4,600 miles at the time the Big Spring Police Department received it. The Department of Defense still owns the vehicle and it was provided to the police department at no cost.

With the acquisition of this vehicle, the police department was able to retire a 1995 Ford ambulance that had in the past served as an ambulance and later served as a mobile command unit. Since the AERV is a replacement vehicle, the police fleet size has not increased, and the maintenance budget will remain the same.

The police department received the vehicle in February, and various contractors worked on it to make it ready for law enforcement use. Members of the Howard County SWAT team have received training on the operation of this particular vehicle by the Department of Defense.