The Moorestown Police Department is considering asking the federal government for a vehicle that can withstand roadside bombs and rounds from military rifles.
The department would acquire the Navistar MaxxPro Dash mine-resistant armored vehicle through the federal 1033 program, which lends unused military equipment to police agencies at little cost.
The local department may return the equipment if it is no longer needed.
Moorestown Police Lt. Lee Lieber said the department wants to be prepared against criminals with strong firepower, such as AK-47s and semiautomatic rifles.
"The bad guys are already militarized," Lieber said. "We're just trying to meet that from a protective standpoint."
The vehicle would replace the department's 1998 Ford E-350 van, which has bulletproof windows that can withstand handgun rounds but not larger bullets.
The van was donated to the police department in 2005 by Shields Business Solutions, a Moorestown-based armored car company. The police department has not brought the van to an incident since receiving it, Lieber said. Shields was the site of an attempted murder-suicide in February when Edgar Figueroa, 42, shot a co-worker and then killed himself.
Moorestown police and the township council are weighing how they could tone down the MaxxPro Dash's militaristic appearance - possibly by repainting it - plus cover the costs of maintaining the vehicle and the process of returning it.
"If we do get it, the hope is that it never comes out of the garage," Township Manager Scott Carew said.
Typically, once armored vehicles are returned, 1033 program coordinators give them to other departments that have requested them, according to Michelle McCaskill, a spokeswoman for the Defense Logistics Agency, which runs the program. She said there typically is a waiting list for such vehicles.
Lieber will take questions from the public about the MaxxPro Dash at the council meeting at 7 p.m. March 23 at township hall, 111 W. Second St.