Clearfield police to use armored vehicle to discourage illegal activity

Published: Tuesday, Jan. 28 2014 2:45 p.m. MST

Clearfield police are using an armored vehicle called "The Armadillo," which is designed to intimidate people from breaking the law by simply by sitting in front of potential problem homes.

Michael Anderson, Deseret News

CLEARFIELD — Police are using an annoying tactic to combat drugs and other neighborhood problems.

It’s a new armored vehicle called “The Armadillo,” which is designed to intimidate people from breaking the law, simply by sitting in front of potential problem homes.

"It's imposing," Clearfield Assistant Police Chief Mike Stenquist said. "Basically, it is to call attention to the problem. Let the people in the neighborhoods know that we're aware of what they're going through and that we're there to assist them."

Stenquist said he and Clearfield Police Chief Greg Krusi learned about the program while attending a law enforcement conference in Orlando, Fla., a few years ago. The idea was first developed by police in Illinois.

"Initially, the police chief in (Illinois) used a police car for this very purpose," Stenquist said. "He parked it in front of a home where there was known drug trafficking going on."

The next morning, Stenquist said, the car was found vandalized. Windows were smashed up. The body was dented. The police chief there eventually got the idea of using an armored truck.

Stenquist said the Clearfield Police Department started searching for its own armored armadillo about four years ago. They eventually landed a deal with Brink's, a security company in Aurora, Colo., for a used late-1990s model.

"It was due to be retired or go to the junkyard," Stenquist said.

Instead, Brink's donated the truck. It was transported to Utah with the help of the Army National Guard and a federal drug grant. Stenquist said local auto-body shops also donated their time and materials to paint and fix up both the interior and exterior.

Stenquist said residents' requests are already coming in for the Armadillo. The department will review each situation before deciding where to place it.

“They probably won’t be too happy,” Stenquist said of the people who live at the house where the vehicle will be parked, “but our goal is to stop the problem, to help those neighbors that are having to live with that. It can be very frustrating, and we understand that."

Surveillance cameras mounted around the outside will record continuously for up to four or five days. It's designed mainly to discourage drug trafficking but can serve other purposes.

"There's also the nuisance crimes," Stenquist said, "all-night partying or fighting, or situations like that, that really hinder or, I guess, decrease the quality of life for the neighborhoods."

While the vehicle is armored, Stenquist said, it will not be used for SWAT or tactical situations. Rather, it's there just to be seen.

"It's a slow-moving, heavy truck," Stenquist said. "It's meant to be a little bit obnoxious."

Email: manderson@deseretnews.com

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