The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

Local News

November 14, 2013

CIRT gets armored vehicle

MERCER COUNTY — Rather, he said, it’s a rescue vehicle that will protect law enforcement officers from gunfire and other attacks during situations that can turn deadly almost immediately. The CIRT team, composed of about 20 highly-trained police personnel from all parts of the county, along with four negotiators, responds to high-risk search warrants, hostage situations and terrorism threats. Initiated in 2005, the team has been called out to 16 incidents so far this year, Hartman said.

The team is part of the Pennsylvania Region 13 All Hazards and Counterterrorism Task Force and the new Lenco Bearcat is one of four in a 13-county area, according to Frank Janetti, Mercer County’s Emergency Management director. Money to purchase the vehicle came from grants through the Department of Homeland Security.

Bearcat is an acronym for Ballistic Engineered Armored Response Counter Attack Truck. The vehicle, made in Massachusetts, is built from the chassis of a Ford F-550. It has .5-inch steel armored bodywork, complete with .50-caliber-rated ballistic glass capable of withstanding hits from multiple weapons, blast-resistant floors, specially designed gunports and a roof hatch.

Hartman, commander of the CIRT team, said the vehicle also has radiologic warning capabilities and a specially designed thermal imaging camera, optimal for helping search heavily wooded areas for suspects, as well as a detector to warn occupants if they are in an explosive gas situation, such as a methamphetamine lab.

By purchasing the vehicle, police now have a tactical advantage they lacked before, when they used standard issue police cruisers.

“We had to approach the scene and walk, maybe for blocks, to the area where there is a hostage or a shooter, making us targets. With this, we can drive right up to where we need to be,” he said.

Hartman stressed it’s for the safety of not only police, but residents too who may be caught up in a deadly hostage situation. While CIRT is a multi-jurisdictional operation, the vehicle can also be called to areas outside the county, if necessary, according to Janetti.

The vehicle arrived in October and was put into use almost immediately. Detailing and decals were recently added and Hartman held a press conference Wednesday morning to officially roll it out. Also at the event were police chiefs Riley Smoot of Southwest Mercer County Regional, Brian Blair of Hermitage, Denny Stevens of Greenville and Dean Osborne of Grove City. All serve on the board of directors for the CIRT team.

Hartman said he plans to take the Bearcat out in the community so people can become familiar with it.

“We’ll be in the holiday light parade in Hermitage to start,” he said.

Text Only
Local News
  • Buhl Day honorees

    The Buhl Day committee has chosen for this year’s celebration five honored guests whose volunteer work they feel best showcases the legacy of philanthropic work left behind by Frank and Julia Buhl a century ago.

    July 22, 2014

  • GC pair not hurt in accident injuring 2

    Two drivers were taken to a hospital after an accident at the intersection of state routes 965 and 173 in Worth Township, police said.

    July 21, 2014

  • WaterFire crowds WaterFire doused

    Sharon’s WaterFire wasn’t lacking either of its elements on Saturday. There was steady, day-long rain but the day concluded with the Shenango River ablaze.

    July 21, 2014 2 Photos

  • ‘Starved’ boy released from hospital

    A 7-year-old boy allegedly starved and beaten by his mother is out of the hospital and ordered out of his Greenville home by Mercer County Common Pleas President Judge Thomas R. Dobson.

    July 20, 2014

  • WaterFire walking tour Time traveling

    A group of more 50 people walked between the raindrops Saturday during an historical tour of downtown Sharon during the city’s WaterFire celebration.

    July 20, 2014 6 Photos 1 Story

  • News briefs from July 19, 2014

    Michigan man charged with assaulting girl here

    Sharon man charged with raping woman

    July 19, 2014

  • For sale Realty transfer tax hike headed for ballot

    Sharon voters will be deciding through a referendum whether city council can raise the realty transfer tax. Council gave first reading Thursday to an ordinance that phrases the question that will be printed on the November ballot.

    July 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Bella recovering Vet: Dog lucky to be alive, should survive

    Although a veterinarian said an underweight dog found Thursday with a gruesome neck wound was lucky to be alive, her prognosis for recovery is good.

    July 19, 2014 2 Photos

  • Alleged hit-run driver arrested

    Sharon police said Friday afternoon they had arrested a man believed to have driven a vehicle that struck an 11-year-old boy Thursday and left the scene.

    July 19, 2014

  • Boy ‘was being starved’

    A 7-year-old Greenville boy described as looking like a human skeleton had been starved and beaten by his mother for a year, authorities are saying.

    July 19, 2014

  • Corruption case puts ex-youth leader in rehab program

    The former commander of the local Civil Air Patrol squadron has been admitted into a diversionary program to resolve a criminal case, but the conditions of the program all but forbid his involvement with CAP, his attorney said.

    July 18, 2014

  • GACT’s ‘Steel Magnolias’ opens tonight at Thiel

    Beauty parlor gossip, southern drawls and big hair may sound out of place for Mercer County, but it’s very much a real scene in Thiel College’s William Robinson Theater.

    July 18, 2014

  • Police seek hit-and-run driver who struck boy

    A boy riding a Mongoose bike on Second Avenue in Sharon Thursday evening was struck straight on by a truck whose driver never hit the brakes or looked back, witnesses said.

    July 18, 2014

  • No news on police force

    More than 70 residents gathered at the Shenango Township meeting to hear news on the future of the Southwest Regional Police Department.

    July 18, 2014

  • Onlooker, 87, hit by Aqua truck, dies

    Aqua Pennsylvania Inc. extended condolences to the family of a Hermitage man who died after being struck by one of its trucks on Tuesday.

    July 18, 2014