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Urban security goes high-end

Sheriff calls equipment 'state-of-the-art'

It was an unassuming stage -- the empty parking lot of a now closed HQ store in Southgate -- for the public debut of the Wayne County Sheriff's Office's three large black and white tactical vehicles newly purchased with federal homeland security grants.

The large mobile-command vehicles, which cost a total of nearly $700,000, are a chance for "the public to see their tax dollars at work," said County Executive Robert Ficano.

One of the vehicles will be dedicated to the county's Marine Unit Dive Team, another will be used by the Sheriff's Office Special Response Team (SRT), and an additional vehicle will be used by the Downriver Mutual SWAT team.

The vehicles were purchased using federal funds from the Urban Area Security Initiative grant from the Department of Homeland Security. James Buford, county director of Homeland Security, said he applied for the grant a year ago.

"State-of-the-art equipment is now getting hooked up with state-of-the-art officers," said Sheriff Warren Evans.

Ficano, Evans and Buford said the county made part of its case for the federal funds based on the department's proximity to an international border, a prominent homeland-security risk.

The new Marine vehicle, which cost $262,877, has decontamination tanks and can transport 10 divers and their equipment. The SRT and Downriver Mutual SWAT vehicles replace the traditional, SWAT-style so-called bread truck with a large mobile command office and a 42-foot pneumatic satellite mast that holds a high-resolution day and night-vision camera. Those vehicles cost $218,197 and $209,676, respectively.

Contact NAOMI R. PATTON at 313-223-4485 or npatton@freepress.com.

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