In a time when school shootings seem to occur almost every month, the Lodi Police Department is hoping to secure a new armored unit that will combat emergency crises.
Lodi Police Foundation has begun a campaign to raise some $200,000 for a Ballistics Armored Tactical Transport, also known as BATT.
Lodi Police Chief Mark Helms said the department has been trying to purchase an armored unit for some time, but there isn’t enough money in the City of Lodi’s General Fund for the equipment.
So Helms recently approached the police foundation, a nonprofit whose mission is to provide financial support to the police department and its programs.
Helms said the campaign has just gotten off the ground, as the foundation hosted a small dinner event last week to begin raising funds.
“It’s not a matter of ‘if,’ it’s about ‘when’ we have some catastrophic event, like a shooting at school, that we’re going to need something like this in our fleet,” he said. “We see things like (school shootings) in the news all the time, and we need to be ready for something like that to happen in Lodi.”
School shootings have taken the national spotlight since Columbine High School in 1999, Virginia Tech in 2007 and Sandy Hook Elementary School last year. Most recently, Brashear High School in Pittsburgh, Pa. was the site of a school shooting on Wednesday.
In this most recent shooting, Pittsburgh police officials have said three male students had been shot and injured around 3 p.m. at the school.
Brashear enrolls 1,416 students, compared to Lodi High School’s more than 2,000 student population, though a portion of the Brashear campus also houses 580 South Hills Middle School students, reports state.
According to the Armored Group, LLC, the company that designs BATTs, the vehicle can stop .50-caliber rounds and includes a blast mitigating floor, internal armored firewall, rifle rated roof protection, and an aggressive, fully armored hood clip.
In addition, the BATT can seat up to 12 geared officers and achieve highway speeds up to 80 miles per hour.
Helms said once the funds are raised, the foundation will offer a grant to City of Lodi, which will then be able to place an order for the BATT.
Once an order is placed, Helms said it will most likely be a three-month delivery for the unit.
“This isn’t so much about SWAT, but about being ready for an active shooter situation,” he said. “We, as a department, are absolutely ready to go. We have the trained people for a situation like this. We just don’t have the proper equipment.”
Helms said there is no other alternative to garnering funds for a BATT unit, so the foundation’s efforts are much needed.
And while an incident like a shooting at a school or other public place has not yet happened in Lodi, Helms said it is better to be prepared.
“Once we have equipment like this, it will change the way we are able to do our police work, and it will be great for the Lodi community,” he said.