Heavyweight boxers need to be bulky and dense but contrarily, need to be swift movers. Heavy armored law enforcement vehicles have a similar challenge that until recently has gone largely unmet. While the Tactical Protector Vehicle from Oshkosh Defense is more of a defender than a fighter, it sure does glide and turn corners in a way that other heavy armored cars have trouble measuring up to.
Meet the TPV
The TPV is built off a shortened Ford F550 chassis. The vehicle façade appears nearly square, with a just over 7-foot width and height. The TPV weighs nearly 13 tons, and its performance capabilities at its weight class are the TPV's calling card. It's turning radius is 21.3 feet and the truck is capable of climbing up to 60-degree slopes and 37-degree side slopes, according to company literature.
Oshkosh Defense has a history protecting military teams overseas and has passed on its combat-proven design to its law enforcement division. According to the company, its Integrated Survivability System includes NIJ Level I to IV, and is capable of stopping a 7.62 ball through 14.5mm AP rounds (configured to buyer request.) Seating options include bucket and bench seats to accommodate up to eight officers.
This vehicle's tight turning radius and off-road terrain competence recently came in handy for a substantial pot bust in the Badger State, where officers closed in on a rural patch of national forest and eradicated close to 10,000 marijuana plants, and found 200 to 300 pounds of harvested marijuana with the help of the heavy armored tac vehicle's unique mobility and military standard protection.
Borrow from your neighbor
Just an hour up the road from Oshkosh Defense's headquarters and plant is the Brown County Sheriff's Office in Green Bay, Wis.
In early August, Oshkosh Defense loaned a TPV to use as a part of the armored car fleet set to support the on-foot team in a massive marijuana grow operation in Oconto County. A large-scale investigation and surveillance case had been underway focusing on the middle of the state's national forest. Local, state and federal agents were planning to bust the grow sites before bear hunting season in Wisconsin opened. Lt. Scott Semb was part of the law enforcement assembly that undertook the grow operations' take down that day.
"We were given a specific site that we had to clear, and it was numerous acres," Semb says.
Semb, an officer since 1986 with more than 21 years service with BCSO, has been leading its SWAT team for the last six. He says the county currently shares a Lenco Bearcat with the other Northeastern Wisconsin agencies. However, it was clear this big bust was going to exhaust the area's law enforcement teams and equipment, and when Oshkosh offered to loan a new TPV for the operation, BCSO eagerly accepted. "Surveillance was tough --it was the middle of the national forest," he says. "There were a lot of unknowns." Semb was familiar with the TPV from a test drive experience on Oshkosh Defense's closed course, which includes multiple hills, dips, turns and varying degree slopes to show off the heavy vehicle's many abilities. This fit right in with the operation, since it had been a rainy summer in Wisconsin and the logging trails in that rural part of the state were undeveloped and muddy. The TPV would offer a more mobile armored protection and could handle the rougher terrain.
The team was able to provide cover for its paramedic, as well as the team doctor with the extra TPV at their disposal.
Lt. Christopher Knurr was also on hand at the pot grow bust. He had experience behind the wheel of the TPV and the Bearcat, and felt the new armored vehicle had an edge to add to the operation. "The TPV drives and handles like an automobile as compared to the Bearcat," Knurr adds. "It is also more stealthy and able to get into more areas/conditions than the Bearcat."
Knurr has been in law enforcement since 1987 and currently works as patrol lieutenant with BCSO, where he is a supervisor and a commander on the co-county bomb squad. To describe the TPV experience, Knurr says it "drove like an automobile without the big bulky feeling of an armored car ... yet you have the ballistic protection of an armored car."
Semb says the TPV has a noticeably tighter radius than the armored vehicles he's used to. "Hands down it was able to get into tighter corners and around tighter areas," Semb explains.
Semb adds the team was impressed with the cool factor of the TPV, but just as impressive were its practical abilities for the mission at hand. "Any type of armored car like this gives us a tactical advantage," Semb adds.
"The Bearcat's a great vehicle, too. I would never complain about a tool like that," Semb says. "It's just a unique vehicle and has advantages that the other one doesn't have. Together, between the two of them, it would cover everything we need. Once you drive it, it's like, wow, this thing can really drive."