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By Michael Thompson
Police in one Atlanta community are taking extraordinary measures to deal with heightened rates of violent crime – the unleashing of armored vehicles capable of withstanding bullets fired from AK-47s.
Originally reported by WSB Atlanta, police are using an armored vehicle normally used by SWAT teams to battle a series of burglaries and home invasions in a south Fulton County neighborhood.
Fulton County police Capt. Wade Yates said the vehicle could help in a foot chase.
Last week, a woman was shot multiple times during a break-in in the area. Police say the burglars fled in a stolen car and were able to escape when they jumped out and ran into some woods.
But the new unit is equipped with thermal imaging for such a time as that, officials said.
Police also said the armored car is meant to reassure residents. Officers are also putting in longer hours and more patrol shifts to increase police presence in the area, the report said.
MSNBC reported that police departments across the nation are acquiring the Ballistic Engineered Armored Response (BEAR) vehicle. With a price-tag between $190,000 and $300,000, the BEAR doesn’t come cheap:
The BearCat G3 claims the vast majority of armored personnel carrier sales to SWAT teams in the United States. Fashioned from a Ford F-550 commercial truck chassis, Massachusetts-based Lenco builds about 200 such vehicles in year, in grades from “VIP SUV” to combat-ready with gun turrets. The massive roller is actually a smaller version of the BEAR, or Ballistic Engineered Armored Response vehicle, which Lenco builds for armies and law enforcement agencies around the world, the company confirms.
The BearCat G3 offers 7.62 AP/.50 caliber BMG Protection, with V-Hull Design and Blast Seats available as an upgrade.
For 2012, FBI data on violent crime showed that Atlanta is the eighth-most dangerous city in America.
The area where the BearCat G3 is being deployed is roughly 81 percent black.
WSBTV also reported that Fulton County resident John Hunter thought the move overkill.
“It’s a bit much. It’s not Afghanistan,” Hunter told the station.
Not all details about the vehicle are being released, police said, for security reasons.