Bloomsburg, Columbia County-- The East Central Pennsylvania Task Force has a brand new weapon in its arsenal.
The "BearCat" offers armored protection and hi-tech solutions for a number of risky scenarios.
And while the BearCat may appear to belong on some foreign battlefield, the valuable vehicle is designed to defeat danger right here at home.
A five-year effort headed up by the E.C.T.F. helped bring this bad boy to our backyard.
Bloomsburg Police Chief Leo Sokoloski noted, "It's a huge asset for law enforcement across our area to be able to respond effectively in a safe manner to any type of critical incident where there are weapons involved or chemical threats."
Perhaps the first thing you'll notice is that the BearCat is heavily armored.
Sokoloski cautioned, "It's not bullet-proof, it's not bomb-proof. However, it's designed to be able to respond to chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, or explosive threats. The devices on the vehicle itself monitor air samples constantly, and would warn officers if they're in danger."
And there's so much more.
The BearCat offers high-quality cameras featuring thermal vision, a PA system for outside communication, and a rugged four-wheel drive setup to allow this monster to go where others vehicles simply cannot.
The BearCat was acquired with full federal funding from the Department of Homeland Security.
It will be shared among the seven counties the E.C.T.F. serves. (Berks, Columbia, Luzerne, Montour, Northumberland, Schuylkill and Wyoming)
The vehicle can seat 10, and provides shielding should officers need to fire their weapons out of it.
Sokoloski says natural disasters, evacuations, dangerous drug raids, and active shooter scenarios are just some of the places the BearCat can provide a big advantage.
He added, "Law enforcement should have every tool, every piece of equipment to keep them safe-- as well as our citizens in our communities here."
The price tag for this powerful protection? About $360,000-- again, fully funded through a federal grant.
We're told the BearCat will be housed in Bloomsburg-- due to the town's central location-- and available to participating task force agencies at a moment's notice.