Armored vehicles linked to sheriff’s office raid?

An armored vehicle owned by the Barry County Sheriff's Office. (March 13, 2014)

HASTINGS, Mich. (WOOD) — Federal and local officials remained silent Thursday about what the FBI was after when agents searched computers at the Barry County Sheriff’s Office Wednesday.

One source speculated that a small fleet of former military vehicles parked behind the sheriff’s department might have something to do with the investigation, so 24 Hour News 8 filed a Freedom of Information request to find out more about them.

Inside  Barry Co. sheriff on FBI raid: ‘We’re OK’

Sheriff Dar Leaf — who was fairly close-mouthed Wednesday about the FBI’s investigation, only saying that he and his department were “OK” — was ready to show and tell about those vehicles Thursday.

“This is the last one we got. Probably the main one we’ll ever use,” he said, pointing to a large armored truck.

The sheriff said his department likes the truck so much it will probably keep only it and a Humvee used on winter roads, and get rid of two other tracked vehicles that resemble tanks.

The sheriff said his deputies couldn’t use the first tracks armored vehicle the department got. The tracks had steel in them that would tear up county roads. Then the department got another tracked vehicle from another county, which still runs.

But the wheeled truck acquired last summer is the one the sheriff’s office prefers. It has enough room to evacuate a lot of civilians, he says, and doesn’t have tracks that will hurt the roads.

“When our guys go out and you got somebody who’s shooting a rifle at you, this rig here will help us be able to go out and handle that,” Leaf said.

Leaf says the surplus armored vehicles still belong to the military, so it’s easy to see how people might wonder if the federal investigation is focused on them.

But it’s unclear whether the vehicles are connected to that investigation because the sheriff says he can’t answer any questions about the FBI’s operation — though his ease in talking abut the armor suggests the surplus deals are not the target.

Thursday, it was still unknown what they were after.

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