Crosier said several of the sheriff's department's four-wheel-drive vehicles got stuck during the Gandee investigation. "I couldn't make it in my Jeep Cherokee," he said.
Crosier said the off-road vehicles will be useful for searching for people lost in rural parts of Kanawha County's 900 square miles of territory. They can also be used for rescues, and will be made available to other local police in emergencies.
But they also have their advantages for enforcing the law, Crosier said. If deputies get a bomb call at a remote location, they can drop the county's bomb robot in the cargo bay and drive up to the scene. If a meth lab is discovered way back in the woods, the UTV can carry the equipment needed to process the crime scene and decontaminate the area.
The vehicles will also be useful for members of the SWAT team, who sometimes carry hundreds of pounds of equipment with them. If someone's holed up in a remote area, Crosier said the SWAT team can put their gear in the UTV and roll right up to the crime scene.
"We can drive up with all our equipment, sneak up and surprise them," he said. "It's a little stealthy. Bad guys don't expect you to drive up in a Polaris Ranger."
Crosier said the vehicles' wide wheelbases make them easy to drive and hard to tip.
"It's almost impossible to flip over," he said. "They'll do everything but climb a tree."Reach Rusty Marks at rustyma...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1215.