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20,000 pounds of steel designed to keep people safe

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CLARKSVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

It's 20,000 pounds of steel designed to tackle everything from drug busts to a school shooting, and it's the only vehicle of its size in the state.

Never again will the Clarksville Police Department be in that position since the agency acquired Bear Cat - 20,000 pounds of bulletproof steel.

One of the worst days in the department's history was when officers flooded Quicksilver Lane and Officer James Eure was shot in the arm while trapped inside a home with an accused murderer.

"The helplessness that you've got an officer shot and can't get to him," said Clarksville Police Capt. Craig Gipson. "Nobody ever wants to be in that position."

The Clarksville Police Department added what is the biggest and baddest new weapon in its arsenal.

"We've never had anything like this," said Gipson.

They can use the ram to push open doors, drill a hole through the wall, or flood an entire building with gas, all without ever leaving the vehicle.

"You really don't have to have so many people running around on the ground and subject to being shot at by somebody that's inside the house," said Gipson.

There are 13 gun ports officers can shoot out of safely within the vehicle.

"You could imagine sitting inside your house and this is parked out front and idling," said Gipson. "You can't reason with it. You can't talk to it. It's not going to listen to what you say and it's there for that. If we can intimidate you to come out rather than force you to come out, we'll do that 110 percent of the time."

For the police department, the Bear Cat is a big, bad new toy designed to save lives - not just officers' lives, but the lives of those they protect as well.

"In this day and age, you have a lot of bad people out there and they have a lot of bad guns with them and we need to be prepared to go in and help the citizens of Clarksville in those type of situations and this will help us out," said Gipson.

The Bear Cat cost $242,000 and upkeep will be expensive. The tires alone are $2,400 a piece to replace.

Half of the vehicle was paid with taxpayers' dollars. The other half was funded from money confiscated by the drug unit.

The entire department will be trained on how to use the vehicle in the coming weeks.

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