800px-Nash_Bearcat

On Monday, September 9, 2013, the Concord, NH city council voted 11 to 4 to accept a Department of Homeland Security grant to furnish a new Lennco Bearcat armored assault vehicle. The Bearcat is intended to replace an older armored personnel carrier that was used to support Concord and the Central New Hampshire Special Operations Unit, which services 20 surrounding towns, the Merrimack County Sheriff, and Plymouth State University. Aside from the basic controversy of deploying weapons of war on city streets (hmmm…where have I heard that before?), in the grant application, Concord Police Chief John Duvall specifically cited the existence of Occupy New Hampshire and the Free State Project among his reasons for needing a shiny new APC . . .

Both of these organizations are committed to non-violence and in the case of the Free State Project, they don’t even do much in the way of public protesting. All that they want to do is encourage enough Libertarian-minded people to move to New Hampshire (counteracting the lefty Massachusetts exodus) so they can peacefully vote for a government that supports individual rights and respects individual liberties. But Duvall listed both of these organizations as examples of domestic terrorism.  Duvall later revised his grant proposal after a predictable uproar ensued, but he’s shown his true colors. After the vote passed, he said:

“I don’t want to see equipment used that will oppresses individual rights in this country. But the stark reality is our law enforcement officers are asked at times to do things that are extraordinary and put their life in peril. It’s my responsibility to give them what is needed to perform their jobs,” he said. “If I never have to use this vehicle, I’ll be a happy person.”

Really? Why am I not buying this?

When tiny towns like Concord and Keene can get grants to purchase quarter million dollar urban assault vehicles something is very wrong with our country. First of all, while I might – might – be willing to give the benefit of the doubt to places like Chicago and L.A. which have to contend with serious gang violence, I just don’t see how little burgs like Concord need it. And God forbid there is any kind of student protest over at Plymouth State University. Things could get ugly over there.

Now let me take my tinfoil hat off for a moment. I will concede that once in a great while, there may be a situation where a barricaded suspect needs to be dealt with. Perhaps he has hostages, maybe he’s running a meth lab. He may have started shooting people from his house. All of these things have happened in the past and I can see the police needing a safe way to approach. In that kind of case, I think it is useful for these APCs to be employed.  But, that is a very narrow circumstance.

Use of these vehicles should require authorization from very high up the food chain. Perhaps in a state the size of NH, all the way up to the governor. If the cops plan to roll in with an assault vehicle, they should get the permission of someone higher than the local sheriff. Requiring cops to jump the hurdle will help ensure that these things are used only in the direst emergencies rather than in a situation where some local yokel decides to roll an APC packed with amped up mall ninjas sporting automatic weapons because someone defaulted on their student loans.

The real question is now that the Concord police chief has thrown down the gauntlet and labeled certain groups domestic terrorists, what’s to stop some of their more extreme members of these groups from tooling up as defense against police over-reach? Perhaps the po-po will roll up on a house in their impenetrable recreational vehicle only to find that the occupants have gone out and purchased a brace of semi-auto .50s and gotten their hands on some AP rounds.

I don’t know about you, but the very idea of it happening in my neighborhood (or within a mile of it based on .50 cal ballistics) scares the hell out of me. The argument has always been that the police up-arm to achieve parity with the bad guys.  Unfortunately, I think we are starting to see the opposite happen with otherwise ordinary law abiding citizens up arming to achieve parity with the cops.  If you doubt that, just look at the surge of gun purchases over the past year.

This domestic arms race needs to stop. I’m just glad that my town police force is headed by a chief who believes in the old fashioned approach of community policing. People need to stop being afraid of their police and police need to stop being afraid of citizens. The old model of police and communities working together will still work. We just need more visionary heads of police organizations.

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69 Responses to Police Militarization Marches On. And You’re Paying For It.

  1. Some of the LEAs in my region have gone-out on their own and purchased soviet armored vehicles which are barely street legal, that is just plain silly.
    I don’t mind PDs having a bullet proof truck but full bore AFVs seem to be the kind of toy that only encourages bad outcomes. I mean, how many Wacos does the US need to endure?

    • We only advocate using Maple Syrup as a weapon of mass destruction, Not the RPG-7. As a Vermonter,I am offended..We would never smuggle that kind of weapon into NH as we need to prevent NYers from immigrating into VT.

  2. “I will concede that once in a great while, there may be a situation where a barricaded suspect needs to be dealt with. Perhaps he has hostages, maybe he’s running a meth lab. He may have started shooting people from his house.”

    In all of those cases, unless your proposed solution involves using an armored vehicle to assault the building where the perp is located, the APC is still useless. Someone has to get out of the APC to take the suspect into custody. If the suspect is shooting, that’s what snipers are for. He has to see out to shoot. If he can see you to shoot at you, you can see him. Lines of sight work both ways… yada yada

    If there are no hostages – wait them out. If there are hostages, and there is a credible threat to their immediate safety – dynamic entry.

    How are you going to breach the wall of a structure without knowing where the hostages are? You can’t. And if you have enough intel that you can ID where everyone is in the structure, why do you need the APC? Here’s a hint – a sole perp cannot maintain 360 degree security.

    Even the military does not use tactical vehicles to initiate breaches of occupied residences. They may use one to pull down a gate – but that’s it. Otherwise, they support the “cordon” part of the “cordon and search”.

    • It could have a role in getting responders to a safe assembly point inside the bad guy’s range, from where the good guys could move to end the danger.

      Not that I’m saying police agencies everywhere should have armored vehicles. Just saying it’s not impossible to have a legitimate use for one.

  3. By the same logic that justifies them having an APC “just in case they need it” – they should also have MANPADS (man portable antiaircraft missles) “just in case” someone threatens to crash a plane into a building. Or maybe they need artillery. A battery 6 would solve the “barricaded suspect” situation pretty quickly.

    • Maybe if you’re Arnold Schwarzteneger and/or you have a quarter million bucks to spare. Just don’t tell them you’re affiliated with any militia organization.

    • Given that at their website, it says:

      “To protect the security of our customers, all product information and brochures are password protected and only available to Authorized Law Enforcement and Government Personnel and Government Agencies.”

      …it seems unlikely that they’ll sell one to Joe Citizen.

  4. It amazes me how freely those with and without power throw around the T-word these days. It has been incrementally creeping for years. When did the supposed “terrorist” go from a plane hijacker to just about anyone with a differing viewpoint…? Don’t agree with the Prez, you must be a terrorist! Have brown hair and drive a blue car, well crap you must be a terrorist because Chief John says so. No, bullshit. This is the slippery slope of conditioning. Sides are being drawn up. I have a lot of respect for the average hard-working LEO out there putting his life on the line every day, but enough of the militarization crap. When I was a soldier, I didn’t pretend to be LEO. I don’t need LEOs pretending to be soldiers.

      • And for about seven years with the guy who sat in his chair before that… “Terrorist” became the go-to bogeyman label on 9/12/2001.

    • Exactly.

      “If I never have to use this vehicle, I’ll be a happy person.”

      Cut to six months later, when they’re using it for a no-knock SWAT raid to serve a warrant on somebody with too many traffic fines.

  5. One truck for 20 towns? Not seeing the evil in it.

    My sheriff department has two of them and they only get used once a year.

    In a parade.

  6. I’m all for the pooooooolice having urban assault vehicles. If they don’t need a ride to a hostage situation in fine style, they can always ride in them at the parade.

  7. Bicycles, whistles, and radios are all any police department needs. If they need a weapon let them ask an armed citizen for help.

  8. The next time two stooges with a few guns are on the loose and they order the town to shelter in place they can roll into town on this chariot.

  9. The sheriff in Columbia, SC – hardly a hotbed of revolutionary violence – was not content with a normal APC, but had to arm his with an M2 .50 heavy MG. He calls it “The Peacemaker.”

    The thought that there is some scenario in his head which would justify full-auto .50 BMG in an American city terrifies me.

    http://www.rcsd.net/dept/specops-tactical.htm

    • This is South Carolina. Thinking does not come naturally.

      I got called a devil worshipper and a N-word lover for daring to walk outside in the Palmetto State wearing a heavy metal t-shirt with my black girlfriend. It hasn’t gotten better. If you’re wondering, no I did not make that story up or embellish it in any way. A random hick in a pickup truck pulled up next to me in a parking lot and started yelling at me.

      I can’t wait to get back to Arizona. At least the racists there are polite about it.

  10. Oh, those occupy people, yeah their scary, they sat there and took pepper sprayings without raising a finger. We sure need to worry about them. Free State Project? Yeah they’re armed to the teeth, but all I know would be standing with the cops in a situation rather than against them provided the Constitution is being followed. For that matter some of them are cops, and reps. I’m surprised he didn’t list Oathkeepers among the potential threats.

    There probably is a good reason for Concord to have one of these just in case. I’m actually not totally against it. The problem is who they listed as possible targets. If the government wants people to trust them then stop giving us so damn many reasons not to!

    I’m already moving to NH, I’ve stayed away from joining the Free State Project due to some philosophical differences I have with them, but this just nailed it for me. Signing up tonight!

  11. I was in San Diego this weekend and a guy said to me “If cops want to act like soldiers, then they should fall under the UCMJ and current ROEs.” Of course there are some issues with that, but I firmly believe there should be a UCLEJ that is at least as strict as the UCMJ. With great power comes great responsibility, not with great power comes a complete lack of accountability.

  12. There’s no need for one of those in this great state of New Hampshire. No situation here I’ve ever heard of would have gone better with an APC.

    • +1. I can’t believe that a local police department is justifying this type of equipment to deal with non-criminal groups that have no history of violence of any sort within 500 miles of Concord. As a NH resident who belongs to neither group I find it highly offensive. I might find it reasonable if they listed the Hells Angels or Bloods even though the Concord Police probably out number both groups combined in NH except during Bike Week. MA ridiculousness taking hold in NH.

  13. Use of these vehicles should require authorization from very high up the food chain. Perhaps in a state the size of NH, all the way up to the governor.

    Gee, that sounds remarkably like… calling out the National Guard. Why couldn’t we just do that on the rare occasions there’s a legitimate need to deploy military force to protect public safety? Keep the military hardware in the military.

  14. Since they are replacing an existing vehicle, nothing really changes. I do have an issue with you referring to the current vehicle as a”armored personnel carrier ” and the new vehicle as a an Assault vehicle. This is the type of misleading wording we are always complaining about from those that don’t support the Second Amendment.
    You should be consistent with the naming of both vehicles, neither has any weapons.

    Do I think they need this, no, but I also know they have had a vehicle for a long time, and it has not been used to assault NH citizens. They are not adding a new capability. Was it wrong for them to use the Occupy and Free Staters as the bad guys, of course it was.

    • Is it armored? Does it carry personnel? Is it explicitly and purposefully designed to assault a defended position? Are we ACTUALLY debating this?

    • I grew up in Houston, Tx. To me, a population of 42,000 qualifies it as a tiny town. The Manchester-Nashua area has 10 times as many people. It may be the state capitol, but it’s certainly not large.

  15. If they keep this up, it just means i get to look the next anti in the eye and say, “yes, I do in fact need a rocket launcher”.

  16. Good point they have them around here in Kentucky well up armored hummers they use for grows and meth labs they do need them just in case there are bad intentioned folks with aks out there waiting.

  17. What I find really infuriating about this is that while LE departments are getting
    completely unnecessary and generally useless junk, fire departments, particularly
    rural volunteer ones, have to almost resort to theft to get life saving equipment
    (gas meters, IR cameras, AEDs etc…).

    The cost of this APC alone could buy every single fire and ambulance service in
    NH a new gas meter and still have enough left over to replace a couple dozen
    pairs of bunker gear.

  18. Did you see this one in Gallatin, TN the other day?
    http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/09/like-waking-up-on-christmas-morning-and-having-the-best-present-you-ever-had/

    “Even the common hunter knows the penetration power of most of the hunting rounds so we didn’t have anything to protect the officers while we’re deploying gas or doing hostage negotiations…”

    How many hostage negotiations do they encounter? It’s only a town of 30,000 for cryin’ out loud. And, how often do they gas their citizens? Does John Kerry know about this?

  19. If the police have need for an armored vehicle, that’s what the local National Guard is for, with authorization given by the state governor. No less.

  20. Maybe if poorly conceived liberal solutions hadn’t been enacted, to solve all
    kinds of non-existent problems back in the 60’s, maybe we wouldn’t have
    a law enforcement system that feels a need for this kind of mil-surp power.
    Society’s problems have been manufactured to produce one result. Chaos.
    Produce enough of it, and free people will cheerfully vote away their liberties
    for the promise of safety and security This tactic is by no means new, Hell,
    it isn’t even original. But it’s very effective on the informationally challenged.
    You know,..slaves. Slave revolts aren’t quelled by conversation or diplomatic
    dialogue, they are crushed by the unrestrained use of brute force. Remember,
    no government provided tools of brute force ever sat idle. All were deployed.

  21. Strawman quote: “But the stark reality is our law enforcement officers are asked at times to do things that are extraordinary and put their life in peril.

    The reality is this: I am certainly not the one asking LEO’s to do any such thing, any more than consumers of food are asking ranchers and farmers to take on the risks they do to make food and fiber.

    All I’m asking cops to do is a) adhere to the US and state Constitutions, b) adhere to existing case law, c) use a policy of “don’t make bad situations worse.”

    The purchase of this vehicle does none of those things. Most of the time, cops don’t do (a), (b) or (c). Especially (c).

    Here’s a tip for police chiefs everywhere: When you’re already in a PR hole, you might want to stop digging.

  22. I think we miss the point when we try to explain this so-called “domestic arms race” between law enforcement and criminals. No such thing really exists, except, perhaps, on the law enforcement side. Instead, I feel that much of this elaborate arming serves to entertain the public and boost employee morale more than anything. For some reason, an agency with brand new weapons seems to hold mor credibility than one with yesterday’s gear. And add an APC, they are damn near infallible.

  23. The local ACLU haters club is not going to like this part:

    “The application was obtained by the New Hampshire Civil Liberties Union (NHCLU) through a public records request, and is one of more than 250 filed by the American Civil Liberties Union to track what it sees as the increasing militarization of police departments throughout the country.”

    • The sad fact is that the ACLU and the NRA have WAAAAY more in common then they have in disagreement. They are just too busy shoving their heads up their own asses to notice (I am referring to both groups) .

  24. I have two things to say about this article.

    First off, nowhere on the Lenco site linked in the article do they refer to these as “Assault Vehicles”. To me, using this term is no different than the media labeling any rifle that looks evil and has a 30-round mag as an “Assault Rifle”, or any rifle capable of long range shooting as a “Sniper Rifle”. Its labeling something for a particular use before you even know what it’s being used for. I really think that if we are not going to put up with them using these kind of shameful tactics, then we shouldn’t be doing the exact same thing.

    On the other hand, RF, I can see your point about this being a situation where side A has better armor, and side B has a better gun, which then makes A get better armor to counter B’s guns, and then B wants better guns, etc. I can certainly see this spiraling out of control, to the point where the cops want to mount a remote-operated m240 to their APC (the Bearcat comes with that option, maybe they already have that in mind?).

  25. LVMPD already has these. About a year ago I was leaving my home and noticed two of these, with lots of SWATers hanging off the side (and what looked like a 249 in the pintel mount), rolling up to a house…in my neighborhood. Joy.

    Turned out to be a ‘grow’ house. Lots of those in Vegas right now, apparently. Watched the take down, watched a whole lots of guys not in uniform (but with nice identity-concealing balaclavas on) spend the next several hours hauling out about two tons of ducting, lights, planters, etc.

    The best part is the guy was back in the house the next day and still lives there. Gotta’ love armored cars and lawyers. 😀 Not.

  26. Folks- many of you are using the same argument that is deployed to take away or limit civilian ownership of “Assault Rifles,” large bore weapons, and high capacity magazines.

    The equipment is not the issue. When we train military, police or civilians we encourage them to always try to take overwhelming odds to the fight. I want this for the guys who are willing to stick life and limb on the line to protect my community and property. Also- a large show of force often tends to de-escalate a fight. The corner dope dealer with a rusty Mac-10 is less likely to want to shoot it out with the heavily armed SWAT team than the beat cop with his Glock and cruiser.

    Bearcats, 50cals and black outfits do not make cops overreach their authority or responsibility any more than your high capacity magazines make people go shoot up a school.
    A cop (or the politicians instructing him) can act badly whether or not he has a .38 snubby and Caprice Classic or an APC and 249.

    We routinely defend our right to keep and bear arms by saying it is the individual not the tool. Be consistent with your logic and objections or they just might get turned on you.

    • JMO, but it is the role of law enforcement to meet force with equal or greater force. “The corner dope dealer with a rusty Mac 10” doesn’t have a fire team equipped with full auto rifles, APCs, snipers, air support and flash bangs. Local municipalities arming themselves with military hardware for use against civilian soft targets seems to me to be excessive and against all logic. Where does one draw the line? When do the police stop being officers of the law and become paramilitary death squads? (Hyperbole) IMHO, most of these rare situations could easily be handled by police with proper training and the same weapons a normal citizen could procure at the LGS. This kind of equipment is meant to put down an insurgency and intimidate the populous. Last time I checked there was no insurgency here. I would feel intimidated seeing this thing rolling down my street, we don’t need that at home bro. We don’t need that shit here. I’ve seen enough of that.

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