Updated: Apr 14, 2012 1:18 PM
ESTANCIA, N.M. (KRQE) — Military Humvees have moved onto the quiet streets of Estancia leaving the residents Torrance County wondering what's going on.
There are four so far with more to come.
Sheriff Heath White says it's not what you think.
The iconic war-zone vehicles belong to the Torrance County Sheriff's Department and are a big step up from the Ford Crown Victorias and trucks deputies usually drive.
And they definitely have people in town talking and speculating.
"Things have kind of gone wild that I have blown $200,000 worth of money for these vehicles when really I've spent $8," White said.
The Humvees, set to be retired by the federal government, are being sold to local government agencies for $1 apiece.
White said he got them to deal with rough roads zigzagging through the 3,345 square miles of Torrance County.
"That is where the criminals are going because we can't get there and can't respond in proper time," the sheriff added.
And it's a whole different story in the winter when deputies have to get to people who need help and encounter 3-4 feet of drifted snow.
White also said they'll also be using one of the Hummers--the bullet-proof one--when the SWAT team is called out.
Seven years ago deputies were defenseless when a man resisting eviction went crazy and started shooting.
"We had several officers pinned down, one shot and a citizen shot," White said. "And they were pinned down five, six hours until APD and BCSO could arrive with their armored vehicle."
While they may seem extravagant, White said they're actually saving a ton of cash.
"With everything going on nowadays with budgets and money, we're looking at everything we can to try and scrape and save and come up with new ideas to try to save money," he said.
The vehicles get 13-15 miles per gallon, just a little less than the 4x4s that most deputies drive.
And the Los Lunas Police Department has a new flashy vehicle of its own, a 12-passenger Mamba armored SWAT transport vehicle.
It's courtesy of the New Mexico State Police, which got it from the Department of Defense but decided that it didn't meet their needs.
The Mamba will replace the department's outdated, less reliable SWAT van which has over 140,000 miles on it.
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