Elgin council to consider $196,000 armored vehicle

The Elgin City Council will discuss Wednesday whether to approve the police department’s request for a $196,000 armored vehicle.

The vehicle is called a ballistic armored tactical transport, capable of protecting against bullets in a variety of situations and serving as a command center for police field operations. If purchased, it will be used more often by the 23-member Tactical Response Team than any other officers, according to City Manager Sean Stegall.

The vehicle will be paid for by money in a drug asset forfeiture fund, costing taxpayers nothing — a position the police department has waited to be in.

“This has been a vehicle that we’ve had a need for for years,” said Elgin Police Chief Jeff Swoboda. “We recognize this is a large purchase. We were going to wait until we could afford to pay for this with money seized from drug dealers.”

With the money available, the department is requesting the purchase.

Elgin’s tactical response team, the equivalent of a SWAT team, has been called to respond to 12 barricaded subject call-outs and 44 search warrant executions since 2006, according to the vehicle proposal report.

For the last few years, that has meant transport in a donated bread truck.

The police department has tried to find grant funding for the vehicle but has so far been unsuccessful, prompting a request of the city council.

Stegall said he supports the purchase, pointing to other cities that have armored vehicles. Aurora, Joliet, Naperville and Springfield all have one apiece; Champaign, Alton and DuPage County have two, according to the police department’s report.

“At the end of the day, if we’re going to have a SWAT team, a TRT team, they need to have the equipment that is consistent and necessary for a SWAT team,” Stegall said. “If we’re not going to provide that to them, then we shouldn’t have one.”

City Council members will discuss the police department’s request at the committee of the whole meeting at 6 p.m. Wednesday in the city council chambers on the second floor of City Hall, 150 Dexter Court.