RPD seeks $50k grant for tactical equipment
By Trudy Balcom
RAWLINS — The Rawlins Police Department has applied for a federal Homeland Security grant to fund basic tactical equipment for all officers on the force.
The grant was written by Lt. Rick Hooper in cooperation with Chief Troy Palmer. The grant will fund basic tactical safety equipment such as special safety vests that offer protection against more powerful ballistics, helmets, goggles, shields and so-called breaching equipment, for breaking down doors.
The Rawlins City Council unanimously approved the resolution in support of the grant at the April 19 meeting.
Hooper said the vests alone can cost as much as $2,500 each, but the department was looking to spend about $600 to $1,000 per vest.
Palmer said the equipment would be useful in the event of an active shooter incident at a school, business or government office, or in cases where police must serve a warrant at a location where they know weapons may be present, or in a “hostile environment.”
Palmer said that if the grant were successful, officers would carry the extra vests and equipment in their cars, ready for use any time it’s needed.
Palmer said that all of his officers have previously received basic SWAT training, and that three officers on staff provide armed aggressor training within the community.
“It’s equipment we need to do our jobs, to minimize the possibility of injury to an officer,” Palmer said.
“It’s about officer safety. We’ve got a function in the PD…we have to have the proper equipment to function in this realm,” Hooper said.
Palmer acknowledged that the Carbon County Sheriff’s Office has it’s own tactical team, but he defended the need for additional equipment for his own department.
“We never know when it’s going to occur…time is of the essence, we don’t have time (in an emergency),” he said. “We are the agency, we are the team, we don’t wait for everyone (else) to show up. A quick response is about saving lives.”
“We’ve had several instances over the years that could have been volatile,” Palmer said.
In a memo to the City Council requesting a resolution in support of the grant application, the Palmer outlined the goals of the department in regards to tactical development.
“The goal is to establish within the Rawlins PD a Type 4 Tactical Team, with the potential of becoming a Type 3 Tactical Team within the next three years,” the memo stated.
The guidelines for the types of tactical teams are outlined by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Hooper said that a Type 4 team was the most basic level, and that a Type 3 team has a greater quantity of specialized response equipment, and some officers with more specialized training, such as a negotiator. Hooper confirmed that the RPD already has some equipment used by Level 3 teams.
The RPD regularly applies for Homeland Security grants for equipment that would be too expensive for the city to fund, Palmer said. He noted that his department had received communication equipment through a previous grant. That equipment acts as a back up in the event the regular Wyolink radio system should fail.
The grants have gotten more restrictive since 2015, limiting funding to specific projects instead of upgrading general equipment, Palmer said.
“We won’t necessarily get what we ask for,” Hooper said.