AMARILLO, TX (KFDA) - Efforts are now underway to get the Amarillo Police Department (APD) a new SWAT truck.
The Texas Panhandle 100 Club, Amarillo Area Foundation and the City of Amarillo have all joined forces to help make this new vehicle possible for the APD.
They've launched a fundraising campaign with a goal to keep those in the line of duty safer during critical situations.
Corporal Toby Hudson has been operating out of the APD SWAT vehicle for the past 13 years.
"It's near and dear to my heart but it's time for an upgrade," said Hudson.
Not long after purchasing the vehicle back in 2006, Hudson said they realized it wasn't rated for a higher caliber weapons.
They then had to spend around $36,000 to up-armor it.
"The extra armor added so much weight to the suspension to the chastity of the vehicle that it's caused a lot of mechanical problems," said Hudson. "We've also had wiring issues and engine problems. Some of the door locks and hinges weren't rated for the weight that we added to it so they've broken down and had to repair them ourselves."
The department has also spent almost $20,000 in other documented repairs, not including homemade repairs they made themselves.
"The pins and hinges have broke so we've had to replace them with bolts and screws," said Hudson. "Some of the bench legs have broken off and we don't have the sufficient parts to repair those." said Hudson.
Hudson said the current vehicle doesn't have enough room for their crew.
"You can only fit about eight guys in here because of all the gear and helmet and stuff that they wear," said Hudson. "We have a much larger team than that so we need places to put everybody."
Hudson said the unreliability of the vehicle could compromise officer safety.
That's why local agencies are stepping up to the plate to help.
"We're looking to give them an opportunity to do excellent things," said Amarillo Mayor Ginger Nelson.
But they need the community's help as well.
They are asking residents to support the Amarillo First Responders' Excellence and Innovation Fund, which will raise money not only for a new SWAT vehicle, but also other first responder needs.
The Texas Panhandle 100 Club has also designated a fund through their organization for the new SWAT vehicle.
"They have to respond not just in Amarillo but they respond all over the top 26 counties," said Texas Panhandle 100 Club Executive Director Dirk Swope. "If these guys are not safe and they are not able to get to where they need to go to provide that life saving ability and the tactics and the training that they have, it's not good for anybody."
Hudson said this isn't just a vehicle for the APD, but for the communities they serve.
"We don't want the vehicle so much for us," said Hudson. "We want it so we can get to where we need to get to as soon as somebody calls and needs the swat team's assistance or the police department's assistance."
A new fully equipped vehicle will cost around $365,000.
If you would like to show your support through the Amarillo First Responders' Excellence and Innovation Fund, you may contribute through the Amarillo Area Foundation website.
You can also support the SWAT Armored Vehicle Project through The 100 Club of the Texas Panhandle by mailing a check to:
P.O. Box 589
Amarillo, Texas 79105.
You can make checks payable to the 100 Club with "SWAT" in the memo.