The South Lake Tahoe Police Department has acquired a new SWAT vehicle from the U.S. military.
The Max Pro M-RAP is as big as a semi truck, looks like a tank and if from the war in Afghanistan.
It can survive a hit from a bomb, run on flat tires and if it catches fire, it can put that fire out. The gun turret on top towers over the curious people it attracts like Angela Phillips.
"It's a big, it's scary and why do we need it?" says Phillips.
Jake Herminghaus, with the police department, answers those questions by saying before this, the department had no way to approach threats and rescue victims. Now it does.
“We were excited of course because we didn’t have anything to protect our officers or our fire department or anything in any real critical incident," says Herminghaus.
The $600,000 vehicle only has 10,000 miles on it and it was free through a military grant. Herminghaus says people also wonder if its expensive to maintain.
“It comes from the government, we can get tires, we can get everything form switches and knobs," says Herminghaus.
He says with the war in Afghanistan winding down, vehicles like this one would be mothballed. But this way they can be put to civilian use and the military can call them back into service if needed.
Supplies to maintain the vehicle will be paid for by the military. It can be recalled by the military at any time if it should be needed for combat. South Lake Tahoe Police Nick Carlquist says without the vehicle, the nearest SWAT team would be an hour away.
“Because of funding issues, because of the way the economy is now we are having a hard time getting police officers in general, let alone adequate equipment for a SWAT team that the city needs," Carlquist says.
It would not be an odd sight in the spring. But there is something depressing about a closed ski slope in the middle of winter. The trails are bare and grassy. The chairlifts just hang there, waving a little with the breeze.
The United States Department of Agriculture says January is shaping up to be another dry month in the Lake Tahoe area and that signals an unprecedented fourth year of drought.
Temperature records are falling around Lake Tahoe and that is melting ski areas.
Four Lake Tahoe Ski Resorts are opening this weekend and one of them is proposing a new program for low-income children.
The drought has caused contamination and the closure of some groundwater wells at South Lake Tahoe.