Police haul out armor for Tuesday’s National Night Out

Oak Harbor Police Chief Ed Green stands next to the department’s new armored vehicle. - Photo by Jessie Stensland / Whidbey News-Times
Oak Harbor Police Chief Ed Green stands next to the department’s new armored vehicle.
— image credit: Photo by Jessie Stensland / Whidbey News-Times

Oak Harbor Police Department’s newest and biggest toy will be unveiled during Tuesday’s National Night Out.

Police Chief Ed Green said the department got the chance to trade in its circa-1967 armored vehicle, which was on loan from the federal government, for a brand new MRAP vehicle.

That stands for a “mine resistant ambush protected” vehicle.

It’s a monster.

The six-wheel, 57,000-pound vehicle arrived at the public works shop this month, where it will be painted and labeled as a police vehicle.

Green said children and anyone else who’s interested will get the chance to crawl around in the impressive vehicle during the annual National Night Out, 3:30-7:30 p.m., Tuesday, Aug. 5, at Windjammer Park.

Beyond the MRAP vehicle, this year’s event has a few other additions, said Community Service Officer Jennifer Yzaguirre.

For the first year, the Oak Harbor Lions Club is coordinating the event.

The winner of the donkey-related competition between the police and fire department will be announced. Residents have voted for their favorite department by placing canned food in bins; the food goes to North Whidbey Help House.

Odie the miniature donkey will get dressed in a miniature uniform of the winning department. Kids can also meet and feed Odie carrots.

Woodward’s Tae Kwon Do will give demonstrations, the Border Patrol may send a helicopter and a singing “flash mob” is planned.

People who attend should be on the lookout for guys with suits and sunglasses. Yzaguirre said the FBI and ATF agreed to take part this year. “I’m not sure what that looks like, but I’m excited to have more agencies participate,” Yzaguirre said.

Attendees should also expect to see some giddy cops who are proud of their new behemoth.

The price tag on the MRAP vehicle says $733,000, but Green said the police department only paid the $8,000 shipping fee to get the state-of-the-art vehicle.

Officer Jim Hoagland took the chief and a News-Times reporter for a spin in the vehicle around the city shop this week. It was a remarkably comfortable ride. Hoagland said it handled well for being such a beast.

Green said the department’s high-risk entry team will be able to use the vehicle for potentially dangerous situations, such as when they’re arresting someone who’s armed and unpredictable.

“It’s basically a big, rolling shield to protect everyone,” Hoagland said, adding that the idea is to place it between the good guys and bad guys.

“It will protect us from any weapon a civilian would possess,” he said.

The vehicle was designed to withstand improved explosive devices and normally would have headed to the war in Afghanistan, but the drawdown means that the military has extra equipment that’s being shared with police departments nationwide.

“It’s either sit in a lot and rust or get used by a police department,” Hoagland said.

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