It wouldn’t look out of place in the Robocop remake, or the next iteration of the Transformers franchise. This “armoured rescue vehicle” is now part of Hamilton police’s fleet of vehicles.

Police purchased the 15,000-pound behemoth in 2012 — just before a lengthy battle between police and council over the service’s 2013 budget. The service has been using it since June 2013. The vehicle raised eyebrows and prompted questions online when it was put on display at a community event earlier this month, but Hamilton police say it’s a needed and useful tool to protect officers and civilians in intense situations.

Here are the answers to six questions about Hamilton police’s armoured rescue vehicle.

How much did it cost?

According to city documents from February last year, the tender amount awarded for the vehicle was $279,180.

Who made it?

It was custom built by Terradyne Armoured Vehicles, a company based out of Newmarket, Ontario.

Did local police have an armoured police vehicle before this one?

They did — and it was likely due for retirement. The service’s previous vehicle was a refurbished 1969 Brinks truck they’ve been using since 1981.

Why do they need this thing?

According to police, armoured rescue units are used to evacuate injured citizens or police from extreme situations. It protects officers from gunfire when they’re approaching a “crisis point” during high-risk incidents. It can also be used in hard to reach off-road situations and to pull/push heavy obstacles.

Police don’t, however, have figures at the ready for how many times this truck has actually been used in the last year. Const. Debbie McGreal-Dinning told CBC Hamilton the unit has been deployed for a “number of calls and incidents” including: armed or barricaded subjects, emotionally disturbed persons calls, hostage situations and “high-risk” warrant executions.

The vehicle was deployed in October 2013 to help arrest a person wanted for attempted murder, McGreal-Dinning says. It allowed officers to "safely approach the home," as the person was potentially armed, she said, and use a loudspeaker to talk with the suspect, who was arrested without incident.

The armoured vehicle was also used in a similar way in February on Houghton Avenue, when an armed man barricaded himself inside a home, she says. A loaded gun was recovered from the address.

Officers in the tactical unit could not recall a time the vehicle had ever been shot at, noting it is a "rescue vehicle" and not an "assault vehicle."

“I think it's fair to say though that the vehicle is deployed for majority of the calls our [tactical] unit responds to, even if it's not directly utilized,” McGreal-Dinning said in an email. “In some instances they may deploy it but have it situated away from the call but close enough to have access if need be.”

Do other police services have armoured vehicles like this?

Quite a few in Ontario do. Toronto, London, Peel, Durham and Ottawa Police all have armoured vehicles. By comparison for price, Sault Ste. Marie police’s Ballistic Armoured Tactical Transport vehicle cost $255,000, while the OPP’s armoured rescue vehicles cost over $400,000. Montreal police’s armoured vehicle cost $360,000.

General Dynamic Land Systems of London, Ont, donated a Tactical Rescue Vehicle to Durham Regional Police, and a portion of the cost for the Sault Ste. Marie vehicle was donated by Essar Steel Algoma.

What are some of the vehicle’s features?

It’s difficult to say specifically, because it was custom built for local police and by Terradyne didn’t respond to interview requests about their products. But here are the specs for the LAPV model on the company’s website, which shares many of the same features:

  • Engine: 6.7 L V8 turbo diesel. 300 HP, 660 lb-ft of torque
  • Transmission: 6-speed automatic
  • Driveline: 4x4 shift on the fly. 4.88 ratio limited slip differential
  • Fuel capacity: 40 gallons
  • Speed: Tires on the vehicle are rated for speeds of 110 km/h
  • Weight: 15,000 pounds