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Recycled materials make new Morgan Co. Sheriff's vehicle

May 06, 2008|By TRISH RUDDER

BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. - The Morgan County Sheriff's Department's treasured Special Response Vehicle once was trash on wheels.

The 1993 Chevrolet 3500 truck was a Morgan County Rescue Service ambulance for about six years, Chief Deputy Sheriff Vince Shambaugh said on Monday.

"The motor blew last summer," he said, and it now has a Chevrolet Blazer motor that was recycled from the Town of Paw Paw (W.Va.) Police Department. The motor was free.

The total cost to renovate the vehicle was about $1,600. A new vehicle would cost more than $100,000, Shambaugh said.

Reviving the vehicle was a community effort, he said, with Herb's Auto refitting the motor and Warm Springs Garage painting it.

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"The paint was donated," Shambaugh said.

The Special Response Vehicle will hold the department's five-man SWAT team, Shambaugh said, instead of multiple vehicles responding to high-risk searches, when "speed and surprise" are needed.

The SWAT team is used for any operation in which police use special weapons and tactics, said Morgan County Sheriff's Department Deputy Scott Lemon.

"It is used in high-risk raids," he said.

"The basic idea is to overwhelm the suspects so there is no time for them to react," Lemon said, "to keep them and us safe."

The vehicle also will be used as a command center for extended field operations, Shambaugh said.

Berkeley and Jefferson counties have done similar recycling to create vehicles for their sheriff's departments, he said.

Lemon said the team needs additional equipment such as ballistic shields and ballistic vests, and less-lethal ammunition.

"We have minimal equipment, but it's a work in progress," he said.

SWAT team members are Lemon, Cpl. Tony Link, Cpl. Seth Place and newcomer Deputy Kevin Barney. Shambaugh is the team leader.

All received SWAT training in Philadelphia, Shambaugh said.

The SWAT team has been part of the Morgan County Sheriff's Department for about 18 months and has been used in 13 major operations, Shambaugh said.

The SWAT team works with teams in Jefferson and Berkeley counties in West Virginia, and Allegany and Washington counties in Maryland, Lemon said.

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