BY LOHR McKINSTRY
---- — LEWIS — The Essex County Sheriff’s Department’s all-terrain Humvee is ready to roll out to disasters and emergencies.
The Sheriff’s Department got the former combat vehicle, manufactured by AM General, from the federal Excess Military Program at no charge, Sheriff Richard Cutting said.
“Our deputies are out there in blizzards, flooding, hurricanes and ice storms,” he said. “This vehicle not only helps our residents but also gives deputies the added assurance of having a vehicle that will take them there and back in the best possible manner.”
The U.S. Army Humvee was picked up at Fort Drum, then went to the Champlain Valley Educational Services Technical Education Center in Mineville for servicing and body work.
Later, it was taken to the Essex County Highway Department in Lewis for installation of emergency lights and a paint job and decals.
Cutting said his department is one of the first agencies to respond during natural disasters.
“Having this Humvee will better enable us to travel in hazardous conditions to better serve our residents. This vehicle will allow us to get in and out of areas helping with evacuations when it’s necessary.”
The four-wheel-drive, high-clearance Humvee is well suited for high water or deep snow, the sheriff said.
The county’s Humvee has under 5,000 miles on it and is powered by a 6.2-liter V-8 diesel engine with an automatic transmission. The vehicle combines the features of a Jeep with those of a light truck.
After the flooding from Tropical Storm Irene in 2011, he said, the Sheriff’s Department realized something like a Humvee was needed for backcountry rescue efforts.
To be better prepared for future disasters, they utilized the services of the U.S. Defense Reutilization Office’s Excess Military Program to bring a surplus Humvee to Essex County.
Work on the vehicle has been paid for with drug-forfeiture money from the State Division of Criminal Justice Services.
“This vehicle was declared surplus by the military and is on indefinite loan,” the sheriff said. “All work so far has been done utilizing asset-forfeiture monies received from criminal enterprises such as drug deals.”
The Excess Military Program provides equipment and vehicles to police agencies. Under the program, police can obtain aircraft, rescue vehicles, weaponry and equipment on a loan basis, Cutting said.
“Basically, anything that can be justified for police and public-safety use can be requested. A significant number of police agencies and sheriff’s offices have utilized this service and have these vehicles in service for public safety.”
BASED IN LEWIS
County Board of Supervisors Chair Randy Douglas (D-Jay) praised the Sheriff’s Department for having the foresight to prepare for future disasters.
“We’re very fortunate to have a vehicle of this caliber, at a very minimal cost to the taxpayers, especially after the suffering my townspeople went through during Irene and the rescues that took place.”
The Humvee is still at the County Highway Department garage but will be transferred to the Sheriff’s Department at the County Public Safety Building in Lewis.
“We’ll have it ready if we need it,” Cutting said. “I hope we don’t need it, but I believe we probably will at some point.”
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