DOBSON — A donation by a Mount Airy business is set to help keep local law enforcement safe, Sheriff Graham Atkinson told the Board of Commissioners Monday night.
And the sheriff’s department isn’t going to have to wait long for a spanking new tactical assault vehicle to arrive now that the commissioners have voted to approve the donation.
Atkinson said he expects to take delivery of the tactical vehicle sometime later this week.
In presenting the proposed donation to the board, Atkinson said he was appearing with a strange request.
“Normally when I’m standing here I’m asking for resources or money,” he said with a smile. “This time I’m bringing resources and money to you.”
The sheriff’s department has been sitting on a Vietnam-era Hummer they received through a state agency that takes old military equipment and offers it to local law enforcement agencies on a permanent loan. But the Hummer was in dire need of repair and there are few places qualified to work on it to make it safe for law enforcement.
Enter Mount Airy’s Granite Tactical Vehicles.
The company, which services military contracts, began working on the old Hummer free of charge.
And after developing a relationship with owner and former Navy S.E.A.L. Chris Berman, Atkinson began calling on him when the need arose, about seven times now, he said.
“I’ve woken him up at 2 o’clock in the morning more than once,” he said, noting that Berman always came through in times of need.
But Berman wanted to do more, and with a laugh said he likes to sleep through the night.
“He asked us if he could armor the Hummer, and I said yes,” Atkinson said.
But Berman took it further than simply adding a little steel.
“Granite Tactical Vehicles has built us a brand-new vehicle on that old Hummer chassis,” Atkinson said. “This is something that we’d never be able to purchase.”
For the sheriff, the offer is a no-brainer.
“This vehicle is one-of-a-kind,” he said. “There’s not another one like it in the world. It’s custom made for us and it’s a donation back to the county because the people at Granite Tactical Vehicles care about this community and the safety of our officers.”
Atkinson said that even here in Surry County, the need occasionally arises for an assault vehicle.
“If you look back just in the past several weeks in North Carolina, since the first part of July there have been five officers shot, one of them right here in Surry County,” he said. “Knowing that we’ve had several occasions to borrow tactical vehicles from (Granite Tactical Vehicles) over the years, this is a great opportunity to keep our people and the community safer knowing that we have a transport vehicle that we can use to move people into a dangerous place without exposing them to any more danger than is absolutely necessary.”
Atkinson said he isn’t going to be stingy with the vehicle.
“This vehicle will be available to all law enforcement agencies in the county,” he said. “It’ll be available for any department that needs it, and we’ll take it to them when they ask for it because they’d do the same for us.”
Following a motion by Commissioner Paul Johnson and with a second by Commissioner Jimmy Miller, the board unanimously approved the donation.
And Atkinson said the move will help the department remain on the cutting edge.
“This donation is a chance for us to continue to be a sheriff’s office with the newest, most up-t0-date technology available without any cost to the taxpayers.
“This is one of those deals where no one loses. Except the bad guys.”
Reach Keith Strange at email@example.com or 719-1929.