“This is not something we’ll use every day,” Sheriff Graham Atkinson said early Thursday afternoon, “but when situations arise, this can make the difference between an officer going home to his family or going to the morgue.”
Atkinson was in Mount Airy to take ownership of a donated tactical assault vehicle provided to the department by Granite Tactical Vehicles, a Mount Airy-based business founded by former Navy S.E.A.L. Chris Berman.
And he wasn’t alone.
During the presentation of the $180,000 vehicle, the sheriff was flanked by members of the county’s tactical team and sheriffs and police chiefs from surrounding localities.
“I’m tickled to death that (Berman) was kind enough to provide this to us,” Atkinson said. “This is something we’d never be able to afford on our own.”
With access to the tactical vehicle built on the chassis of a Vietnam-era Hummer, the sheriff said many situations can be handled without unnecessary danger to officers.
“It can be used for a variety of things,” he said. “We can use it to transport officers into remote areas with bad terrain like we often see with a plane crash.
“It can be used during marijuana eradication efforts, and during situations where there is an armed suspect or a hostage situation,” Atkinson added. “It could also be used when serving warrants on dangerous suspects.”
Addressing the Board of Commissioners earlier this week and asking for their go-ahead to accept the donation, the sheriff said the vehicle was built with local law enforcement in mind.
“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.”