MICHIGAN CITY | Not even Hollywood action movie legend Arnold Schwarzenegger, perhaps, could dream about being at the wheel of a vehicle that practically eats bullets and bombs for breakfast.
Michigan City authorities now have one and plan to use its first fully armored vehicle only in hostage and other extreme situations where lives are seriously at stake.
The Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle worth nearly $800,000 came free of charge thanks to Uncle Sam giving away surplus military vehicles.
Michigan City Police Chief of Services Royce Williams said the MRAP his department recently obtained is even fire proof and was used to transport soldiers to their positions in high combat areas.
Some people have questioned the need for such an indestructible vehicle locally. Williams said in deadly situations like school shootings happen in smaller communities, it's best to have an MRAP.
As many as a dozen or so officers can pack themselves in the 40,000-pound MRAP and get themselves close to a barricaded home, for example, to be in a better position to subdue a gunman and give any hostages a chance to make it inside the vehicle literally just a few steps or less from a doorway.
"If this piece of tactical equipment saves just one life, it will have been worth it and that's the bottom line," Williams said.
It could also come in handy as a shield for officers in drug raids where suspected dealers are known to carry weapons or serving warrants at homes suspected to contain firearms.
"The people are not going to see this vehicle on the streets on a weekly or monthly basis. It'll be used only for very serious situations. It's just nice to have that in your arsenal," Williams said.
Another use is to reach stranded motorists and people in other emergencies who can't be reached by traditional four-wheel drive vehicles getting stuck in drifted over roads during the winter.
Chief Mark Swistek said the vehicle was moved from the police station to the central maintenance yard where it might be painted and decaled like other police vehicles in the fleet.
Williams said any work of that nature will be contingent upon donations.
"It's a valuable piece of equipment to have, and we're grateful to get it for free," Swistek said.
Williams said the vehicle is intended to save lives and is not a weapon. All military and other equipment was removed prior to it arriving.
The department acquired two Humvees two years ago from the same military surplus giveway, but those vehicles are not bullet or bomb proof.
The Humvees provide space to transport more officers to an emergency situation and to get in and out with their gear quicker than they could in a squad car or some other traditional police vehicle.
"It's all about the safety of life. That's what it comes down to," Williams said.