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Beline Obeid
The Grosse Pointe-Harper Woods Special Response Team's war- surplus armored transport vehicle drives "like it looks," said Frank Zielinski, a Grosse Pointe Farms public safety officer and assistant team leader. photo by Brad Lindberg.

June 05, 2014
THE GROSSE POINTES — The Special Response Team is ready to rumble.

The team's new ride is a war-surplus armored personnel carrier given to civilian law enforcement agencies by the federal government.

Technically, the six-wheel, all-wheel-drive, 47,000-pound Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle. MRAP for short.

"When we transverse an area where someone may shoot at us, we can do it safely," said Frank Zielinski, a Grosse Pointe Farms public safety officer, assistant SRT leader and sniper. "We need the tools to bring ourselves home safely."

About $3,000 from the SRT budget paid for Zielinski and fellow Farms Officer Geoff McQueen to take possession of the MRAP at manufacturer BAE Systems in Seeley, Texas, west of Houston.

"The bulk of that cost was for fuel," Zielinski said.

The 78-gallon fuel tank drains quickly at three miles per gallon.

"It will cost about $1,500 per year in fuel and maintenance, said Shane Reeside, Farms manager.

On the lumbering, bouncy and noisy 1,468-mile return trip at a top speed of 65 mph, traffic backed up on I-75 in mid-Ohio during a torrential rainstorm.

"When we finally got up to the problem, there was 2 1/2 feet of water under a viaduct," Zielinski said. "We went right through it."

Everything on the vehicle is new except the cockpit and passenger cabin (called the box), protected by 1 1/2-inch armor and bullet-proof glass.

"The box was in Afghanistan," Zielinski said. "When they were shipped back, the box was put on a new chassis with a new engine, transmission, suspension, brakes and tires."

Four spare tires came with the deal. Each weighs 300 pounds, works when flat and costs $5,000 to replace.

The 13-member SRT, founded in 1988, has two officers from each of the five Pointes and Harper Woods.

They'd been using an old bread delivery truck.

"When I ran the team, we never had anything like this," said John Schulte, Chief of Grosse Pointe Shores, past and founding member of the SRT. "I can tell you from experience, every time the SRT shows up for a call out, we want the advantage. We don't play defense. That's the plus of showing up in a vehicle like that."

Officers had access to smaller armored cars stored in Warren, Southfield and Washtenaw County, said Lt. Michael Siedel, a team member from City of Grosse Pointe public safety.

"We've utilized those over the last four or five years," Siedel said.

A carrier based in the Pointes is intended to shorten the team's response time.

"We can get on scene a lot faster," Siedel said. "If a bad guy sees that pull up, he may give up before we do anything."

The MRAP, colored desert sand, is stored temporarily in the Farms public works garage.

Zielinski said it will get a traditional black-and-white paint scheme and operate out of an empty bay in the Grosse Pointe Park fire garage.

The cargo area requires slight modifications, such as seats, to hold the team and their gear.

To donate money or services for the vehicle's outfitting, contact Zielinski at (313) 885-2100, ext. 1016.

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