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Military-donated Humvees ramp up police rescue capabilities

LEFT: The hatch for the machine-gun turret is still in place in the roof of the Humvee assigned to the Gold Hill Division. The vehicle was one of seven recently donated by Fort Carson to the Colorado Springs Police Department. On the floor below the hatch, the raised flat spot is where the gunner would have stood. The view is from the left rear door. The back of the front seat is at the far left. RIGHT: Gold Hill Officer Brett Iverson stands beside his division's Humvee after taking it off-road in some recent snowy weather.
Westside Pioneer photos

       For over a quarter-century, the Humvee has been an American military symbol of mobility in difficult conditions.
       Now the large, rugged vehicle is serving the same purpose for the Colorado Springs Police Department.
       Seven older models were donated to the city last winter from Fort Carson, by way of the Logistics Agency of the U.S. Department of Defense.
A view through driver's side door reveals the unadorned layout of the front area of the Humvee -- no electronic locks or window opening mechanisms, either.
Westside Pioneer photo
Units have been deployed to each of the city's geographically defined patrol divisions, with a fifth assigned to the Specialized Enforcement Division. The two remaining Humvees will be kept for parts, a police press release states.
       One of the patrol divisions is Gold Hill, whose southwest coverage area includes the Westside. Brett Iverson, the Gold Hill officer chiefly responsible for the Humvee, said that the machine's chief use will be "response and rescue."
       Although the vehicle is slow, loud and gets poor gas mileage, its features include 1½ tons of weight; a low center of gravity; all-wheel drive; a low-geared, high-torque engine; 16 inches of ground clearance (double that of most sport-utility vehicles); and a long wheelbase -- all of which adds to its capabilities on uneven terrain. The interior measures about 8 feet by 12 feet. The Humvee's specifications also say it can traverse slopes as steep as 60 percent and side slopes of 40 percent and slosh through up to 2 ½ feet of water.
       “In a fire, flood or blizzard, it can get places where a normal cruiser can't,” Iverson said. “It would have been ideal to have in the Black Forest or Waldo Canyon fires.”
       The Gold Hill vehicle has received only minimal specializing at present, other than a fresh paint job, flashing lights and a “Police Rescue Vehicle” marking on the back. Iverson said that plans call for all the Police Department's Humvees to be provided with standardized emergency equipment, such as heavy-duty chain and supplies of water and packaged meals. That way, no matter which of the CSPD Humvees goes into the field, the officers involved “will know what each one has,” he explained.
ABOVE: The glow from the flashers adds to the rough-and-ready aspect of the Humvee assigned to the Gold Hill Division. The vehicle expands police capabilities to respond to emergencies in difficult conditions. BELOW: The sizable rear area of the Humvee, as seen from the back door (which lifts up).
Westside Pioneer photos

       Since the vehicles arrived a few months ago, no applicable emergency needs have cropped up around the city, although Iverson said that Sand Creek had its vehicle out, just in case, when the roads were bad this winter.
       “Humvee” is short for the acronym HMMWV, which stands for High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles. Intended as a replacement for the World War II- style jeep, Humvees were made by AM General (a subsidiary of American Motors Corporation ), and first used by the military in the mid-1980s.
       Although Humvees were originally intended for transport, not fighting, they wound up in combat as early as the U.S. invasion of Panama in 1989 and the Gulf War of 1990-91. In fact, the Gold Hill unit still has a circular hatch in the roof, which was used as a turret for a machine-gunner, Iverson said. He added that police have no plans to use it that way themselves.
       The Gold Hill vehicle dates to 1988.
       Since then, according to encyclopedia sources, the military has upgraded the Humvee numerous times, and recently a process to replace it has begun.
       A civilian version of the Humvee, called the Hummer, was sold from 1992 to 2010.

Westside Pioneer article
(Posted 4/23/14; Community: Public Safety)

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