By Janet Davies
The Statesman Journal
Oregon police agencies Thursday got nearly 50 tons of armor to use in their war against drugs.
The Oregon National Guard rolled out two light armored vehicles, or LAVs, to provide protection for officers on drug raids where they might encounter armed resistance.
"This is very serious business, very dangerous for law enforcement officials," said Maj. Gen. Raymond F. Rees, Oregon's adjutant general, during an unveiling ceremony at McNary Field to demonstrate the vehicle's capabilities.
The all-weather, all-terrain vehicles, valued at $630,000 each, are designed to withstand attacks from almost any munitions short of missiles or rockets.
They can roll through rugged, rural areas to get to marijuana fields or up to the front door of a drug house or methamphetamine laboratory. Officers - up to eight passengers with the crew of two - can exit down a ramp at the rear.
Inside, they can stand up and open hatches on top.
With the hatches closed, they have such home comforts as heating and air conditioning.
The LAVs, manufactured by General Motors, operate on eight tires rather than tracks, they are street legal, Rees said. Based in Salem they can hum along at up to 62 mph on the freeway.
They feature night driving vision devices and a land navigation system of a Global Position System receiver and self-calibration Digital Compass System.
State Police Lt. Bernie Giusto said the vehicles also will help in cases of heavily armed, barricaded suspects and hostage situations. His agency will monitor their use and has set stringent criteria, he said.
"It's a real nice partnership for us with the Guard," Giusto said.
The vehicles aren't the first under the guard's national counter-drug program.
The Oregon Guard has provided helicopters and pilots to such agencies as the Polk Count Sheriff's Office.
Deputies take advantage of infrared cameras to help detect objects in heavily forested areas during their annual marijuana eradication expeditions.
Maximum speed: 62.1 mph
Range (avg. 45 mph): 746 miles
Fuel (capacity): 145 gallons
Fuel economy: 5.14 mpg
Weight (empty): 25,150 pounds
Length: 22.1 feet
Width (with tires): 8.5 feet
Height: 8.84 feet
Engine Manufacturer: Detroit Diesel
Max. performance: 275 hp
Seating: 2 crew, 8 passengers
Large color photo reads: "National Guard Tech. Sgt. Andrew J. Furnia is surrounded by dials and switches in the driver's compartment of the Light Armored Vehicle demonstrated Thursday."
Small color photo below it reads: "The LAV completes a demonstration on the runway at McNary Field.
Photos by Jay Reiter/Statesman Journal [omitted here - Portland NORML]
Portland NORML notes: To find out how armored National Guard vehicles have already been used against marijuana offenders, costing Portland taxpayers a $100,000 settlement, read Drug War Hits Home, from PDXS newsmagazine, Oct. 22, 1995.
to the All Politics Is Local page.
This URL: http://www.pdxnorml.org/natl_guard_sj_030196.html