Coming to a PD Near You!!!

While Radley Balko has been keeping a close watch on the  militarization of police for a while,  his post about the Lenco Bearcat (“Not Your Grandfather’s Stutz”) takes the cake.

Imagine the harm this could do.  Radley notes:

Free Staters in Keene, New Hampshire, are pushing back against the town’s proposed plan to buy a Bearcat armored personnel carrier.

Interestingly, LENCO, the company that makes the vehicle, pulled the promotional video below from its website in response to the Keene protests. DHS has given out hundreds of homeland security grants to local police departments across the country to purchase these vehicles.

How long before the Bearcat replaced the Hummer as the suburban housewife’s car of choice for the supermarket?

Whether the vehicle is as badass as the promotional video would make it appear, the question is the use to which it would be put in an American police department.  If we’re invaded, it would certainly come in handy.  But as invasion isn’t a likelihood at the moment, and a police department that happens to have one lying around might be inclined to use it, if for no other reason than to keep the fuel fresh, how exactly would that work out?

The possession of such things, ranging from drones to rocket launchers to armored vehicles, push police down a path toward proactive violence.  Forget “protect and serve.”  That’s was the old officer friendly with a tie and cap.  Whether it camo, because it does such a great job of hiding people in urban areas), or black garbed marauders with gadgets that only could be previously found on Batman’s belt, we’re creating armies where police officers once stood.

And these brave men and women, together with their gadgets and gear and vehicles, get used. Against criminals. And others. Have you ever tried to explain you’re innocent to gas being introduced into a room by a twenty foot arm with a drill on the end?

6 comments on “Coming to a PD Near You!!!

  1. John Burgess

    I’d really like to see SWAT teams stripped of qualified immunity. They come in with such force and violence that any mistake is likely to be fatal to someone just standing there wondering innocently WTF is happening. The dogs aren’t safe either.

  2. Ziran Zhang

    I’ve been trying to think of why a local PD needs this toy. I realized maybe they needed it for a situation like this:

    [Ed. Note: Link deleted as per rules.]

  3. NLP

    How much does that thing cost? (This is the question that is dear to the hearts of the residents of Keene. Trust me on this). I can understand if the state police want a couple of these, and I can understand a city like Manchester using them on rare occasions, but the problem with something this big is that the police feel the need to justify the cost, so they start hauling it out on every occasion, including situations that used to be handled by one guy with a bullhorn, or two guys with a warrant.

  4. Mad Jack

    NLP is correct about the cost. That is the only item which will prevent any given police department from buying a few of these for traffic patrol, service of warrants, domestic disturbance… having one in the garage, it WILL get used.

    I really and truly do not know where this militarization and oppression by the police department will end up, but I suspect that eventually there will be a few police officers who will wake up one day and quietly refuse to follow orders, and not because they’ve followed constitutional law arguments, but because their new standing orders are just plain wrong. And that is when the system will begin to change.

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