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Donation covers cost of new SWAT vehicle

The minivan that carried Special Weapons And Tactics (SWAT) robots and other gear, personnel, and technical support for operations was about as old as the company that paid to replace the van.

The Washington County Sheriff's Office and Woodbury Public Safety are among 13 first responder organizations in Minnesota to receive grants by the Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation.

The sheriff's office received a 2016 Ford Transit Connect worth $22,472 — with no bells and whistles, Washington County Sheriff's Sgt. Kyle Schenck said.

SWAT's van plays a critical role in transporting the needed personnel and equipment to scenes where SWAT is conducting a mission, he added. Robots provide intel and other communications occur from inside the van.

SWAT's retired van was a 1999 Ford minivan. It was sent to auction.

Other grants also come in the form of lifesaving equipment, for which law enforcement applied earlier this year. A public presentation took place Tuesday at the Firehouse Subs in Bloomington. Firehouse Subs of Woodbury sponsored the Washington County and city of Woodbury donations.

A total of $118,000 in equipment was awarded across the state.

Woodbury was one of seven police departments in Minnesota to receive an automated external defibrillator (AED). The devices, worth $1,300 each, were awarded as part of the Foundation's 1,000 AED Gift Campaign.

"We're very appreciative," Woodbury Public Safety spokeswoman Michelle Okada said. "We would love to have more of them around the city and it's great that they're supporting such a program."

The City of Maplewood Police Department also received an AED.

The Jacksonville, Fla.-based nonprofit is the charitable arm of the national Firehouse Subs restaurant chain. Grants are awarded quarterly to public safety organizations throughout the country.

The first Firehouse Subs sandwich shop was founded in 1994 by brothers Chris and Robin Sorenson, who are former firefighters. They now have at least 1,000 restaurants nationwide, including at least five in the Twin Cities metro.

Steven and Patricia Linehan own and operate the Woodbury franchise.

At Firehouse Subs, customers can round up their bills with the spare change going to support grants like these and other gifts to public safety departments.

William Loeffler

William Loeffler is a playwright and journalist from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He worked 15 years writing features for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He has also written travel stories based on his trips to all seven continents. He and his wife, Michelle, ran the Boston Marathon in 2009. 

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