YCSO gets military vehicles through Army program - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

YCSO gets military vehicles through Army program

Posted: Updated:

YAKIMA, WA - When the Yakima County Sheriff's Office responds to a call, it could take hours before they get there. Yakima County is about 4,200 square miles, nearly half the size of Vermont. So how do deputies navigate such rural areas that could have extremely rough terrain? They do it with help from the U.S. Army.

In the back parking lot of the Yakima County Sheriff's Office on 1st Street in Yakima there's patrol cars, the Search & Rescue office, and way in the back, a couple of military trucks straight out of an episode of M*A*S*H.

"They were primarily used during the flood of '96," said Sergeant Randy Briscoe, YCSO Search & Rescue Coordinator. "Everybody recalls that. They were definitely were an advantage to us at that time. But they just wore out." 

But the trucks YCSO got through a program partnership with the Army that no longer runs. With public concern over the slow-moving Rattlesnake Ridge landslide, Sgt. Briscoe saw an opportunity to apply for more surplus vehicles.

"(Vehicles) Are capable of going up to almost 3 feet of water, snow, any condition that we may have for Search & Rescue," he said. "Or for any kind of emergency the county would have."

The department recently got three practically new all-wheel drive cargo trucks. Each vehicle has less than 15,000 miles on them. The best part? They're free, saving county taxpayers an estimated $300,000.

"If we have a problem with the vehicle (and we don't have to invest any money into getting it repaired), I can take it back over to Ft. Lewis and look for another vehicle to replace it," Sgt. Briscoe said.

Sgt. Briscoe understands that there may be people in Yakima County who are uneasy about seeing deputies driving around in military trucks, but he says the Sheriff's Office may repaint them in order to match their other department patrol cars.

"This is not a military organization. We're the people that have always been there, we're just using different toys to get there."

YCSO has been using the military surplus program for 25 years, and these new trucks will be in service for decades. Right now YCSO has three military vehicles, but Sgt. Briscoe says ideally they would have five.

Deputies also got training from the Yakima Training Center on how to drive them, and YCSO says they want to have at least 12 deputies who know how to operate them.