Overland Park wants to replace its aging ‘bomb truck’ — here’s what that would cost

Overland Park's explosive disposal vehicle, often referred to as the "bomb truck," is now 16 years old. For several years, the city has considered replacing it. A new truck is again listed as a proposed item on this year's capital improvements budget for $450,000. Image via City of Overland Park Facebook page.

The replacement of Overland Park’s explosives disposal truck — which has been asked for since 2018 — is once again on the long-range spending plan for the city budget.

The “bomb truck,” as it is often called, had been a $450,000 planned purchase for 2020 before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. The item is now back again — for the same projected cost — for 2022.

If ultimately approved, the purchase of a new “bomb truck” would come out of the $11.6 million the city would spend over five years from sales tax revenue generated by the new county courthouse.

Aging vehicle

Among other reasons, the Overland Park Police Department and City Manager Bill Ebel have wanted to replace the city’s 16-year-old explosives disposal truck because of an exhaust problem that causes some fumes to get into the area where officers work.

That aging vehicle also has increasingly needed repairs.

“Like any vehicle that is 16 years old, the current (explosives ordnance disposal) vehicle has technology deficiencies,” said Sean Reilly, spokesman for the city.

A new truck would be bigger and have more current technology, Reilly said. The truck carries equipment that includes an X-ray machine and a robot that can transmit videos remotely in dangerous situations.

The current vehicle was purchased with federal money and is used to support other local cities and Johnson County when explosives might be present.

One-of-a-kind vehicle in Johnson County

Overland Park’s department is the only police agency in Johnson County to have a “bomb truck,” and the city also works with the FBI and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

Last year the truck went out on 94 calls. Of those, 36 resulted in safe disposal of suspicious devices, Reilly said.

The other 24 calls were when explosive ordnance technicians accompanied SWAT teams as a precaution.

If approved, the truck would be purchased with money from the city’s share of a temporary, special sales tax to build the new county courthouse in Olathe.

The capital improvements budget is a priority list of spending for the coming five years and is not a final decision. The bomb truck, for instance, has appeared in four recent budgets but has yet to be purchased.