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Jamestown SWAT Team Presents Bearcat Proposal

Jamestown Police Chief Timothy Jackson and members of the Jamestown SWAT team shared details of a recent SWAT raid with the City Council Monday, highlighting the need for increased protection as crime continues to rise. P-J photo by Timothy Frudd

The City Council is preparing to vote on a proposal that would significantly strengthen the Jamestown Police Department’s SWAT team.

Police Chief Timothy Jackson and members of the Jamestown SWAT team presented a proposal to the City Council Monday for a Bearcat SWAT vehicle to enhance the safety and security of law enforcement and civilians in the city. Jackson is asking the City Council to approve the purchase of a $247,516 Bearcat.

The city’s SWAT team currently uses Chevy vans to transport SWAT members, perform operations and rescue civilians, which the SWAT team says limits their ability to operate safely and most effectively.

Jackson clarified that the Bearcat vehicle would be used for several purposes, not just SWAT raids.

“One thing that I’d like to be clear about is that although we are calling it a SWAT vehicle, it’s used for multiple purposes,” he said. “It can be used for search and rescue, evacuating people and a trauma center. It has multiple uses, it’s not just for SWAT raids.”

Since 2016, the Jamestown SWAT team has been deployed 199 times. Jackson said the SWAT team has executed various operations, including five high risk warrants, two hostage situations, four barricaded subjects, one search and rescue and 187 search warrants. He believes the operations would have been safer and easier with an armored SWAT vehicle like the Bearcat.

“Our SWAT team is one of 27 in New York state to be certified,” he said. “That’s a huge accomplishment. They, in my opinion, deserve the best equipment to do their jobs.”

Last week, the Jamestown SWAT team confiscated three pistols, a rifle and tens of thousands of dollars in illegal drugs.

Jackson said the SWAT team requires better protection against increasingly dangerous situations throughout the city.

Councilman Jeff Russell, R-At Large asked Jackson what the recent confiscated rifle could do to the vehicle the team currently uses. Jackson and the SWAT team explained that the rifle and the pistols could penetrate the vehicle, putting the lives of the officers at further risk.

“I just want to recap by saying we have an excellent team,” Jackson said. “They do a lot of training; they’ve met the standards. They should have the best equipment available. We need to protect the protectors, because if they’re not protected, what are we going to do?”

Asked how long it would take for the city to receive the SWAT vehicle if it was approved and purchased with ARPA funding, Jackson said the city would most likely receive the Bearcat one year after purchasing the vehicle, prompting the City Council to consider the proposal with additional urgency. Rather than budgeting for the vehicle, the council is expected to use ARPA funding if the purchase is approved with a vote.

“The two choices were either to budget it, which it’s a significant amount of money to budget, or rather use the ARPA funds instead,” City Council President Anthony Dolce, R-Ward II said. “That doesn’t affect the tax rate or the budget or make them have to cut something else or add something else.”

Russell once again stressed the importance of moving beyond misconceptions that the Bearcat vehicle is “too militaristic looking” or that the SWAT team is “out hunting people.” He said the city needs to “get over” the appearance of the vehicle. He also echoed Jackson’s point that the Bearcat could provide additional security for the community, not just law enforcement.

“This isn’t only to protect the men and women of the Jamestown Police Department, but it’s also to protect citizens,” he said.“I think it’s an essential part of equipment for this team. It’s no different than a fire truck that we’ve spent a half million dollars on or any of the stuff we’ve heard about tonight. We fund these projects so they can do their job, and I’m asking everyone to stand by the men and women of the Jamestown Police Department and support this so they can do their job safely and also protect the citizens of Jamestown.”

Councilman William Reynolds, R-Ward V added that the city has “been fighting” a war against crime for decades without some of the necessary equipment to reduce the threat of dangerous situations throughout the city. By investing in law enforcement, he believes the city can send a message to those engaging in violent acts throughout the area.

“We need to let the bad guys know that we are going to take our city back,” he said.

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