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Concord’s BearCat: The exaggerated terror threat

July 29. 2013 4:41PM

The Concord Police Department has become the latest New Hampshire PD seduced into pursuing “free” military-grade equipment by the Department of Homeland Security’s extravagant distribution of money and material to fight “terrorism.” At what point does this armament upgrade stop?

The Concord police have applied for a $258,000 BearCat G3 armored vehicle. The BearCat G3 is an off-road-capable armored personnel carrier. Concord Police Chief John Duval says “this vehicle is simply a vehicle to remove people who may be in harm’s way, remove injured parties and bring police officers in closer.”

Ah, but that is not exactly true. The BearCat’s manufacturer, Lenco Armored Vehicles, lists a few BearCat specs on its website. Most are password protected, available only to the military and law enforcement. But we were able to find the company’s promotional video for the BearCat G3. It features a police team clad in military fatigues using a BearCat G3 to assault a building, break open a front door, fire tear gas, and fire what appear to be automoatic weapons through multiple gun portals. The company’s own website features a police officer praising the gun portals. This is not merely a rescue vehicle.

In its pursuit of this vehicle, the Concord Police Department has misled more than the public. Its grant application to the Department of Homeland Security mislead DHS about the threat faced by small-town police departments in New Hampshire. The ACLU obtained the application, which states that the terrorist threat “is real and here.” It goes on to say: “Groups such as the Sovereign Citizens, Free Staters and Occupy New Hampshire are active and present daily challenges.”

Tax evaders Ed and Elaine Brown were classified by the FBI as “Sovereign Citizens” terrorists, meaning they deny all government authority. But the FBI also classifies “Sovereign Citizens” as individuals, not parts of a terrorist organization. As for the other two groups, libertarian Free Staters and a handful of Occupy Wall Street hippies hardly constitute a “daily” terror threat.

Exaggerating the terror threat is how the National Security Agency attempts to justify its massive data mining, the Department of Homeland Security attempts to justify its massive bureaucracy, and local police departments attempt to justify their increasing militarization. Very little of this expansion of spending and government power is actually justified by any real threat. Certainly a quarter-million-dollar military-grade vehicle is just about the last thing the City of Concord would buy with local taxpayers’ money. It should not spend federal taxpayers’ money so wastefully either.

Public Safety Editorial Concord

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