Militarization of Police

Despite the (Totally Non-Existent) Threat of "Free Staters" and Other Political Activists, Concord, NH, Cops Can't Get Their Quarter-Million Armored Vehicle (Yet)

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Mike Riggs (formerly of Reason) follows-up at the Atlantic on a story I blogged last month about Concord, NH, seeking federal bucks to buy itself an armored vehicle, where, to quote a Union-Leader story:

In its grant application to DHS [to get federal money to buy a Bearcat armored vehicle for over a quarter million taxpayer bucks], the police department said New Hampshire's experience with terrorism "slants primarily towards the domestic type," and said "the threat is real and here."

"Groups such as the Sovereign Citizens, Free Staters and Occupy New Hampshire are active and present daily challenges," the application stated. In addition to organized groups, it cited "several homegrown clusters that are anti-government and pose problems for law enforcement agencies."

As Riggs now reports:

the BearCat can drive through a hail of bullets, carry a team of soldiers, and be topped…with either a machine gun or a grenade launcher. It is basically the perfect vehicle for an urban war zone. Concord, New Hampshire, with its population of around 42,600 and a violent crime rate of 227 per 100,000 people, is of course not an urban war zone. 

Then again, no town in the United States should theoretically require such weapons, yet cities of every size have them thanks to the Pentagon's congressionally approved "1033 Program." Begun in 1994, the program allows the Department of Defense to donate weapons, vehicles, and equipment to local police departments, regardless of whether they need them (or know how to appropriately use them)…..

On Monday night, protestors flooded the Concord City Council meeting, both to object to Duval's characterization of Occupy New Hampshire and the Free State Project, and to let lawmakers know they don't want a BearCat in their city. According to the Concord Monitor, protestors held signs that read, "More Mayberry less Fallujah" and "Thanks but no tanks." With 150 protestors squeezed inside the meeting, and others protesting peacefully outside, the council agreed to table its vote. 

"It requires much more debate than we have time for tonight," the Monitor reported Councilor Dan St. Hilaire as saying. The city council and its protesters will revisit the BearCat question on Sept. 9.

To understand the non-threat of Free Staters, read my 2004 feature on their genesis and intent in trying to make New Hampshire a more libertarian place.