Kermit the Frog famously bemoaned "it's not easy being green."

But Kermit could drive his green insecurity away if he were behind the wheel of the Natrona County Sheriff's Office new Lemco Bearcat armored vehicle.

The Bearcat means business with a 6.7-liter turbo-diesel engine powering its nearly 22,000 pounds, a passenger compartment that carries 11 special response team personnel with full gear or 20 without [maybe fewer if Miss Piggy were aboard], an elevated observation point with rotating turret with a port for viewing and/or shooting, floodlights, and the capability of driving over almost any terrain.

It also can withstand the hit of any commercially available ammunition, Sheriff's Lt. John Harlin said.

Sheriff's Lt. John Harlin.
Tom Morton, Townsquare Medi

"It's designed specifically for modern law enforcement operations," Harlin said. "It's not a military vehicle."

Lenco Industries, Inc., based in Pittsfield, Mass., built the Bearcat on a commercial Ford 550 chassis, upgraded the suspension and brakes, added larger tires and an armored shell, he said.

"It increases capability in response to natural disasters; when you may have debris or other objects blocking roadways as well as water, snow," Harlin said. "It's four-wheel drive and capable of use in extreme terrain."

As armored vehicles go, it's relatively simple and doesn't include much in the way of high-tech electronics, he said.

It can double as an ambulance with stretchers and emergency medical equipment.

The maximum operating speed is about 65 mph.

The Natrona County Commission used optional one-cent sales tax revenues to pay for the $337,758 Bearcat including the vehicle itself, radio and peripheral equipment, Harlin said.

The Bearcat will replace three puny-by-comparison armored vehicles on loan from the federal government, he said. Not only are they small by comparison, but the early 1980s-era vehicles have limited visibility and can carry only a few special response team personnel. They also break down a lot and the third one is used for spare parts.

Tom Morton, Townsquare Media
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