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Amphibious ‘Patroller' gives county search and rescue team a helping hand

July 10, 2001|By MARIO RENTERÍA, Staff Writer

The Imperial County Sheriff's Office has a new albeit temporary addition to its search and rescue team — "The Patroller" — a multi-purpose amphibious vehicle.

On Monday, General Dynamics Land Systems, Imperial Valley sector presented the Sheriff's Office with the vehicle.

"We've coordinated with the sheriff's department as an opportunity for them to utilize the vehicle for the next couple of months and do an evaluation," said Buzz Glass, site manager for General Dynamics Land Systems.

"The Patroller" is part of an arsenal of vehicles manufactured nationwide by General Dynamics. The company builds and sells amphibious weapons systems to, among others, the U.S. Army, the Marines Corps and some international customers.

Presented to county Sheriff Harold Carter by Glass, the Sheriff's Office will use the vehicle for two months. After which Sheriff's officials will decide whether to enter into a lease agreement with General Dynamics to continue to use the vehicle.

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"We would use it more in a search and rescue mode. It's practically a go-anywhere vehicle with a 500-mile range. It's a pretty good all-around vehicle for our rural area and the areas around canals," said Carter.

Carter said the vehicle will be ideal for searching for people in the desert. With a 500-mile range and air conditioning, it will be useful in such situations year-round.

The vehicle also has night-vision capability, its exterior is bulletproof and it can carry a crew of two with seven passengers.

The Patroller is about the size of a small tank. It can reach speeds of up to 72 miles per hour on land and 5 miles per hour on water.

Carter added the vehicle could be used as an assault vehicle if needed.

"There is some concern in law enforcement at the state and federal level about terrorist acts occurring along the border and we're trying to stay on top of that," Carter said.

"If we have an earthquake or some sort of natural disaster it will also be very helpful," said Carter.

Glass said if the sheriff's department decides to enter a lease agreement with General Dynamics, other agencies could also be involved.

"It's a unique vehicle with a lot of capabilities and abilities," said Carter.

Staff Writer Mario Rentería can be reached at 337-3435.

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