A western Mass. police truck not the same as what's in Ferguson - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

A western Mass. police truck not the same as what's in Ferguson

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There have been concerns all over the country regarding over-militarizing police.

CBS3 spoke with Pittsfield Police Chief Michael Wynn who showed us the Lenco BearCat armor rescue vehicle available to all western Massachusetts county police departments.

"The Berkshire County Special Response Team has deployed it both with drug raids and other sensitive barricaded subject situations," Chief Wynn said.

It's not a military-based vehicle designed to overcome explosives. Rather, Wynn says, "it's designed to protect officers and rescue personnel from gunfire."

The use of military vehicles by local police has become a controversial topic recently due to the events in Ferguson, MO, where armored vehicles and tear gas have been used during protests.

Wynn says the vehicle available here in western Massachusetts is not in question, rather it's an asset and is different from what is used overseas and in Ferguson.

"Having access to the vehicle for rescue operations I think is a good thing. How and when those vehicles get deployed that's a different conversation," Wynn said.

President Barack Obama said Monday that it's time for the government to review what local law enforcement purchases and what they actually need.

"There is a big difference between our military and our local law enforcement and we don't want those lines blurred," the president said.

While Wynn says the BearCat has not been needed outside of Berkshire County yet, what's important is that it's available.

"Given the situations that we've seen in the last several years with workplace violence, school violence, mall violence and all kinds of active shooter situations together with the incidents surrounding the (Boston) marathon and the aftermath of the (Boston) marathon, the ability to move trained law enforcement personnel into an unsecured hot area is something our citizens expect, and law enforcement agencies have to have access to equipment that allows us to fulfill that mission," Wynn said.

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