NH legislator introduces bill to stop small-town police from buying tanks

The militarization of the nation’s police has been a theme here at La Maison — everything from military-style torture of protesters, to SWAT team–like defense of banks, to taser-fun-for-cops, to crowd control machinery that can almost blow your ears off.

In all these stories, the direction has been More — buy more, arm more, up-armor more, prepare to react more strongly. It’s been a feast of testosterone.

Now someone is fighting back, and in a practical way. From Boing-Boing:

NH legislator introduces bill to stop small-town cops from buying tanks

Imperial Storm Troops guarding a bank in Portland

Imperial Storm Troops guarding a bank in Portland

New Hampshire state representative J.R. Hoell has introduced state legislation that will require police departments to get approval from citizens at a town hall meeting before they buy military-style gear. The bill, called the Police Equipment and Community Engagement (PEACE) Act, was prompted by the city of Concord buying its police department an armored assault vehicle, a decision justified in part by the police department’s stated need to fight protest groups such as Occupy.

The vehicle in question, a Lenco Bearcat, costs $258,000 and was widely opposed by the people of Concord, a town of 42,000 which has experienced three murders in the past ten years. The decision was justified in part by “recent murders and armed robberies” — but Concord had no murders in 2012 or 2013, and police responded to 20 armed robberies — the same number of robberies as the town experienced, on average, for the preceding decade.

This is the Lenco Bearcat:

Lenco Bearcat armored assault vehicle — $250,000. Bring your own testosterone.

Lenco Bearcat armored assault vehicle — $250,000. Bring your own testosterone.

The people don’t want this stuff, but the big boys do. Wonder why? In the video below, taken at the town hearing, a former Marine and Iraq veteran, says, in part:

“You don’t need this [equipment], you really don’t. … What’s happening here is, we’re building a domestic military because it’s unlawful or unconstitutional to use American troops on American soil. So what we’re doing is we’re building a military.

“My best friend, who’s a SWAT officer in Nashua, who came to Iraq with me to train the Iraqi police, sent me an email with a picture of him in the media on the streets of Watertown, Mass wearing the exact same combat gear we had in Iraq, only it was different color. …

“Homeland Security is pre-staging gear, equipment [that's] consistent. What they’re trying to do is use standardized vehicles, standardized equipment … We’re building a domestic army and shrinking the military because the government is afraid of its own citizens. …

We’re building an army over here, and I can’t believe that people aren’t seeing it. Is everybody blind? …”

Here’s the video of his testimony. It’s short, compelling, and worth your time. Be sure to catch his closing comment, about the cheese.

In my opinion, this video needs to go viral. There’s something going on in the bowels of the State. I don’t know what it is — maybe just the usual testosterone-addicted suspects playing Manly-Man with the baddest toys they can get, and a frightened (on purpose) populace giving in to them.

Or maybe something else. I’m going to pick up the Deep State thread soon. Some of what’s going on doesn’t add up to four. Stay tuned — there’s a surprise ahead.

GP

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Gaius Publius is a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States. Click here for more. Follow him on Twitter @Gaius_Publius and Facebook.

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  • neroden

    I am sure that’s what they think. That’s what Louis XVI thought, too.

    The line from Star Wars also comes to mind.
    “The more you tighten your grip, Tarkin, the more star systems will slip through your fingers.”

  • alannah mcgrowdie

    my uncle recently got a nearly new black
    Volkswagen Touareg SUV by working off of a pc… blog link C­a­s­h­D­u­t­i­e­s­.­ℂ­o­m

  • Sweetie

    Because there isn’t the added benefit of suppressing the public, which has already been happening.

  • Badgerite

    The Boston Marathon Bombing is not really a good example to bring up since it involved an actual terror attack by some US citizens on others resulting in several deaths. And their gripe wasn’t Wall Street. Personally, since this is happening in Concord, a city of 42,000, this would seem a rather ridiculous purchase. But I can’t say it scares me a great deal. Having just witnessed what some molotov cocktails did to such a vehicle in Kiev.

  • BillFromDover

    Get a paramedic up here, stat!

  • BillFromDover

    What could possibly go wrong?
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xMMyVKm9BjM

  • Indigo

    Sadly true. It’s War Porn.

  • http://www.americablog.com/ Naja pallida

    They’re no longer equipping for law enforcement, nor even investigation, but instead for full population suppression and enforcing martial law. Police tactics straight out of banana republics and strong-man dictatorships.

  • UncleBucky

    Yep, that’s another corollary of the arms race. It’s, as a matter of fact, a corollary of the phrase “guns kill”. I mean, you have a gun in house, the percentages of it go way up to a homicide or a suicide.

    Likewise with armoured vehicles, they gonna be used…. Tsk.

  • UncleBucky

    It’s gonna be an arms race. And regardless of how bad they are, criminals will play that game. Just like in the movies, like in the new RoboCop.

    Congratulations, cops. You have just made more collateral damage…. dang.

  • Indigo

    Private prisons create a need for prisoners in order to balance the books at a profit.

  • Indigo

    That’s very confusing. I don’t get the connection between having a tank on the police fleet and cutting down on murders, let alone robberies, although I concede that, properly positioned, it might cut down on jay-walking.

  • Freedonian

    I would recommend reading “Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America’s Police Forces” by Radley Balko and checking out his column at the Washington Post, Balko has been following this closely for years.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    Remember that old police-drama TV show “S.W.A.T.”? (Special Weapons And Tactics)

    It was very popular in its day. I remember seeing a few episodes and thinking, “This is really not good. It’s like they’re training people to get used to seeing police not as police, but as heavily armed soldiers…”

  • pappyvet

    Exactly right Sis. And they don’t build all of those private run prisons for nothing.

  • pappyvet

    The police have been wanting to ramp up into para military status for quite a while. I feel they are a perfect mirror for the paranoia of the owners of most of our country. Control is king. Officer O’Toole on the beat has not existed for a long time. I would love to see a study of increased police power compared to increased wealth and power of the upper 1%.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    There’s an old saying — I wish I could quote it exactly, but I can’t — but it’s along the lines of, “If you build an army, it is inevitable someday someone will demand it be used.”

    There is no conceivable use for these military grade vehicles and equipment when in the hands of the police other than against the citizens. And I think we’ve already seen how the government at all levels is redefining the word ‘terrorism’ to apply to virtually any and all crimes, which are then exempt from any civil rights or constitutional justice protections.

  • cole3244

    the way the 1% are overpowering the 99% and putting their very lives in jeopardy, and since we have a one part system today, this is a way for the elites to prepare for the eventual uprising by the masses and defend themselves against the 99% who have the numbers but not the resources.
    ps – the police will not be on the side of the 99% then and they aren’t now.

  • GaiusPublius

    Thanks as always for your comments, Myrddin. Re this:

    > I can’t post as much as I would like right now. We are re-organizing the
    Internet in response. Some of those changes should start to become
    apparent soon.

    I hope you’ll be writing about that here. If so, looking very much forward to it.

    GP

  • MyrddinWilt

    This illustrates my actual concern with the NSA surveillance state: The military has taken over police functions. And I don’t have confidence in the generals running the show.

    They can act perfectly rationally when they are dealing with threats that are in their comfort zone. If the Russians invaded they would be repelled without any breaches of the constitution.

    But when something unexpected happens they panic and their response to panic is to amp up the response. So they end up using torture and building internment gulags in Cuba. Sure, those policies were in part driven by the fact that George W. Bush is a sick psycho who gets his sexual jollies from presiding over an execution or a hundred. But there was also pressure for the panic response from inside the military.

    The problem with the NSA surveillance state is what they do when they panic. They panicked in 1953 when they feared Iran might be a little too democratic for their taste and installed a bloody thug as dictator till he was overthrown and replaced by their worst nightmare. They panicked in the Bay of Pigs and drove Castro to the Soviets instead of accepting a non Batista government there. The Nixon administration was one long panic and Nixon and Kissenger murdered hundreds of thousands of people in their futile attempts to prevent what they saw as chaos.

    I can’t post as much as I would like right now. We are re-organizing the Internet in response. Some of those changes should start to become apparent soon.

  • Silver_Witch

    Proceeds can go to schools or food banks…then let us see how eager the police are to continue their “war on drugs [citizens]“. I like your post very much and vote Yeh!

    I also like the fact that a state legislator is seeing the silliness of getting assault vehicles for small community with low rates of crime.

  • Sameboat1

    There is a much simpler explanation for this. Police departments have been allotted set amounts of Homeland Security grants. If not spent in certain time periods, those grants go away, so we see silly examples like this – “boys and their toys”. Additionally, many police agencies are allowed to keep the proceeds of drug stops, whether large amounts of cash, or vehicles, etc. Often the suspects are detained, but never charged. Their assets, usually the result of drug trade, buy some much-needed equipment for police, such as newer patrol vehicles or bullet proof vests. But when it becomes a revenue producing activity, however legal, it usually becomes a deal with the devil, as more police resources are diverted to the nefarious “drug war”. The answer? State and municipal governments need to properly fund their police departments, and any seized asset proceeds should go somewhere else. Come on, get these cops out of those old cars with 300,000 hard miles on them, and give them the gear they need through normal funding.

  • http://liberawheeler.blogspot.com/ Elijah Jacob Shalis

    I don’t think there is a secret reason for this other than the police industrial complex making big bucks off these purchases.

  • Bill_Perdue

    Good post GP.

  • Bill_Perdue

    Possibility?

    It’s not a possibility.

    It’s well underway.

    FISA. The Paytriot Act. The racist drone murders of Arab and muslim American citizens. NDAA. The militarization of the police and the creation of thousands of local and state laws to stifle dissent. And to cap it all the creation of the “United States Northern Command (USNORTHCOM) … a Unified Combatant Command of the U.S. military tasked with providing military support for civil authorities in the U.S… in case of national emergency, natural or man-made, its Air Forces Northern National Security Emergency Preparedness Directorate will take charge of the situation or event.”

    Image below from the ACLU

  • Drew2u

    Hey Teabaggers, hate “Big Gubmint”? Time to put your money where your bags are.

  • barada

    The possibility that there is an overall, hidden purpose to all trending towards
    US local police militarization in recent years, is bone-chilling.

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