CLEARFIELD - When Clearfield police begin parking their “Armadillo” in neighborhoods, residents will sit up and take notice.
The Armadillo vehicle is meant to cause that kind of response.
The Armadillo is a retired Brinks armored truck that Clearfield police acquired to park in problem areas, sending a message to law-abiding people that the police, “understand your concerns, and we want to help you eliminate the chaos,” according to Clearfield Assistant Police Chief Mike Stenquist.
While the vehicle is ready to be put into action, the police haven’t had the type of situation come up since they got it that the vehicle is intended for.
Those situations include anything that lowers the quality of life, Stenquist said.
They had a situation the truck would have been perfect for some time ago, Stenquist said.
Drugs were being sold from a house in a neighborhood in the city. There was a lot of traffic in and out of the neighborhood and fights. Those living in the house were intimidating their neighbors and flashing obscene gestures.
“That situation would have been the perfect one for us to park the vehicle and tell the residents (of the neighborhood) ‘we’re here to help,” Stenquist said. It also would have let those causing the problem know, “we’re not going to put up with this,” Stenquist said.
The truck will not be used as a tactical or assault vehicle and it won’t be used for routine calls.
“There will be times we could use two or three of them and other times when we won’t need one at all,” Stenquist said.
“It’s designed to be imposing and prominent; some might even say ugly and obnoxious,” a press release from the department says.
If it works as planned, the police hope to see a reduction in crime and restoration of peace in neighborhoods where it’s used.
When the department receives a complaint or sees a situation the truck may be used for, Stenquist said police will meet first with the parties causing the nuisance in hopes of getting the situation cleared up without using the truck. Police will also let other neighbors know what’s going on.
“We want to have a dialogue and give the party (causing the problem) the opportunity to say we’ll stop it first,” Stenquist said. Then, if the problem persists, the truck will be used.
Information will be available on the city’s police website on where the Armadillo is parked and a link will be provided for requests. Requests will be considered based on the history of nuisance-type crimes at the residence and the number of valid complaints investigated and document by the department.
The vehicle was donated to the city by Brinks in Aurora, Colo.
The Armadillo was an old truck Brinks was retiring, Stenquist said. Mechanics in Clearfield City’s shops did some work on it, “but overall it was in better shape than we thought it would be.”
Perk’s Auto Body Shop in Clearfield donated the interior and exterior paint job and did some body work on it. Jack’s Do-It Shop in Salt Lake City repaired the truck’s upholstery, which Stenquist said was in pretty bad shape.
“It was a situation that without their generous donations, we couldn’t have done the work that needed to be done,” Stenquist said.
About 20 departments nationwide have similar vehicles, Stenquist said, “but as far as I know we’re the first in Utah to have one.”
Stenquist said he believes such vehicles are cost effective for small departments.
“We can’t place an officer in a vehicle outside a home 24-hours a day,” Stenquist said. “I believe it’s an economical and effective way to deal with these problems.”