Kane County SWAT team may get new armored vehicle

When a Kane County SWAT team armored vehicle rolled up to the Henry Pratt Co. shooting site in Aurora last month, it almost hurt, rather than helped, the situation because it broke down.

Fortunately, there were enough armored vehicles from other departments that could get near the factory to retrieve wounded officers and deliver other officers. It's also fortunate the vehicle broke down near a staging area, instead of blocking one of the narrow streets leading to the factory or the gateway to its parking lot.

But cases like this - including the SWAT team's being stranded in Chicago once when its van broke down - prompted Kane County Sheriff Ron Hain to do an audit of all equipment and supplies last month.

And that led the Kane County Judicial and Public Safety Committee on Thursday to with his request for the county to buy, for about $271,000, a new armored vehicle called a Lenco Bear Cat G2. The request will go to the full county board April 9.

According to Hain, it would be the first new SWAT vehicle the county has purchased. It would take about a year for it to be delivered once ordered.

Its other vehicles came used. Some were obtained through the federal Law Enforcement Support Office program, which disburses surplus Defense Department equipment. One armored vehicle is 37 years old; another is 27. The team's 2006 Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck has 280,000 miles on it.

Hain detailed the state of other supplies and equipment for special-operations teams, including the bomb-disposal unit.

The SWAT team has officers from departments throughout Kane County.

It is using retired patrol radios and military headsets, on an unencrypted analog system that the public can listen in on. Its helmets are two years past their suggested use-by date. The officers' vests are also past their warranty dates, and the rifle-rated armor plates that go in them are 20 years old. Officers have taken to buying their own plates and helmets

"If not for the money I spent on armored plates, you would have been paying my wife death benefits," Deputy Chris Peeler told the committee. He was shot in 2017 (accidentally, by another team member) when they were apprehending a man who had taken a nurse hostage at Delnor Hospital.

Team members also have bought their own helmets and sniper rifles. Officers also pay for their uniforms, boots, and ear and eye protection

Committee Chairman Bill Lenert said he participated in the sheriff's special-teams audit and asked the sheriff to make the presentation to the committee. As for the officers' spending their own money on gear?

"I don't think that's proper," he said.

The committee also recommended several other purchases for the sheriff's department.

Hain requested a Tek84 Intercept body scanner for the county jail. The walk-in device would scan detainees for hidden contraband.

Currently, strip searches are allowed only for detainees accused of select crimes, Hain said. Those arrested on traffic, regulatory or misdemeanor charges can't be strip-searched, unless weapons or drugs were involved in the crime.

The committee also recommended replacing six Chevrolet Tahoes and six Ford Explorers, at a cost of $455,754.

Hain also told the committee he is thinking of charging other counties that use Kane County's bomb squad. Kane County's is one of nine bomb squads in the state, he said.

This is the damage done to a bullet-resistant vest worn by a deputy who was shot during the hostage situation in 2017 at Delnor Hospital. Armor plates issued by the department are 20 years old. The deputy credits newer plates, which he bought himself, with saving his life. courtesy of the Kane County Sheriff's Department
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