The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office has a new piece of equipment, and they are paying for it with boxes of cereal.
The MRAP — Mine Resistant Ambush Protected — vehicle was formerly military equipment, which was acquired by the department through a state and federal program, and according to department Operations Commander Major Lafayette Woods Jr., originally cost $733,000.
“Our cost was actually $7,500, which was the [federal government’s] service fee for transporting it from Sealy, Texas, and we had the option of paying that out of our budget or paying for it by donating cereal as a part of the THV11 Cereal Drive,” Woods said. “For every four boxes of cereal we donated, $50 was knocked off the service and transportation costs.”
Woods said the department collected more than 900 boxes of cereal, some donated by the public and others bought by the department and Walmart contributed the rest. He delivered those boxes to the Arkansas Food Bank at Little Rock Thursday afternoon.
“We applied for this in 2011 and were notified in 2012 that we were going to be awarded one of these,” Woods said, explaining that equipment like the MRAP are only approved for law enforcement agencies that have a Special Response Team or SWAT team.
He said the vehicle would be used only in extreme circumstances and would not be used as a patrol-type vehicle.
“We will use it for barricaded suspects or hostage situations or active shooters,” Woods said. “We’ve got 900 miles of rural roads in this county and there are a lot of places that are wide open, so this vehicle will allow us to get closer to a suspect or suspects without exposing deputies to the chance of getting fired on.”
Woods said the vehicle has been modified with the addition of four cameras — two in front and two in back — that will give deputies better visibility.
“We can also use it for disaster recovery situations where the terrain is very rugged,” he said.