Tom Aspell, John Duval & Brian LeBrun conspire to bring militarized vehicle to Concord

Last year here in Keene, NH – a college town of 25,000 –  the “Thanks but no tanks!” campaign was in full-swing. An overwhelming percentage of Keene inhabitants vocalized their preference to not have their town patrolled by a Lenco Bearcat (Ballistic Engineered Armored Response Counter Attack Truck) yet the self-described “authorities” requested and accepted the grant money for its acquisition.

Now, the bureaucrats and police outfit in Concord, NH, a sleepy political town of 43,000, are hoping to working to bring the same militarized vehicle to their area based on far-reaching, purposefully inaccurate claims, such as: “Sovereign Citizens, Free Staters and Occupy New Hampshire are active and present daily challenges” – huh!??

These Three Men Want to Bring a BEARCAT to Concord:

tom aspell concord lenco bearcat police copblock Tom Aspell, John Duval & Brian LeBrun conspire to bring militarized vehicle to Concord

Thomas Aspell

Thomas Aspell
“city manager”
41 Green St.
Concord, 03301
603.255.8569
taspell@concordnh.gov
citymanager@concordnh.gov
2012 take-home pay: 143,167FRNs

john duval lenco bearcat concord police copblock Tom Aspell, John Duval & Brian LeBrun conspire to bring militarized vehicle to Concord

John Duval

John Duval
“police chief”
35 Green St.
Concord, 03301
603.255.3735
jduval@concordnh.gov

Brian LeBrun
“deputy city manager”
41 Green St.
Concord, 03301
603.255.8569
blebrun@concordnh.gov
2012 take-home pay: 119,412FRNs

_____________________

lenco bearcat boston police concord copblock Tom Aspell, John Duval & Brian LeBrun conspire to bring militarized vehicle to Concord

Stop the Bearcat! – Concord to use tank against activist groups

Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/206057732886699/

Monday, August 12th
7:00PM
37 Green Street
Concord, NH 03301

The City of Concord is holding a public hearing on whether it should accept a $258,000 DHS grant for a militarized, armored vehicle called the Bearcat.

When Concord approved the application for a DHS grant, it stated: “Groups such as the Sovereign Citizens, Free Staters and Occupy New Hampshire are active and present daily challenges.”

This represents an extremely disturbing trend among police departments towards militarization and intimidation of peaceful, non-violent activist groups. If approved, the Bearcat will be used in 20 local communities, including Plymouth State University.

** Turn out August 12 with signs, prepared statements, or just yourself to stand up for your community and against militarization! **

UL Article: http://www.unionleader.com/article/20130728/NEWS07/130729284
Bearcat promo video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gipHbhgJaX4

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Concord PD Requests a BEARCAT to Deal With “Sovereign Citizens, Free Staters and Occupy New Hampshire”

fpp cc Tom Aspell, John Duval & Brian LeBrun conspire to bring militarized vehicle to Concordby Darryl Perry at FPP.CC on July 29, 2013

The Concord (NH) PD has applied for a Lenco BEARCAT, according to the Union Leader, the application states “Groups such as the Sovereign Citizens, Free Staters and Occupy New Hampshire are active and present daily challenges,” in addition to organized groups, it cited “several homegrown clusters that are anti-government and pose problems for law enforcement agencies.”

The NHCLU Executive Director Devon Chaffee said, “It’s far from clear to us why an armored vehicle would be necessary to address what are generally, by and large, non-violent movements that in fact provide little or no threat to the security of our state.”

Thanks to Devon Chaffee of the NHCLU, I now have a copy of the application, which is being posted for the world to see!

Concord NH Bearcat application

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Concord, NH, Cops Want Armored SWAT Vehicle to Combat “Free Staters” (And Others)

reason concord police copblock Tom Aspell, John Duval & Brian LeBrun conspire to bring militarized vehicle to Concordby Brian Doherty at Reason.com on July 29, 2013

The New Hampshire Union Leader reports on the desire of Concord, NH, police to get all militaried up with Bearcat armored SWAT vehicles, paid for by the federal Department of Homeland Security, natch.

Excerpts:

Concord is poised to accept $258,000 in federal funding to buy an armored vehicle that police say would provide protection for officers and civilians alike during a terrorist attack, riot or shooting incident….

Concord’s City Council will hold a public hearing on Aug. 12 about the proposed purchase of a BearCat G3 rescue vehicle, paid for entirely by a grant from the Department of Homeland Security.

The police department applied for the grant on behalf of the Central New Hampshire Special Operations Unit, which includes 20 local communities, Merrimack County Sheriff’s Office and Plymouth State University. The SOU has an “early 80s-vintage” Peacekeeper armored vehicle, but it needs to be repaired “constantly,” Concord Police Chief John Duval said.

Concord’s City Council unanimously approved the grant application for a new BearCat last fall, according to Duval. But in the months since, some have raised concerns about just how and when such a vehicle would be used….

“Every year,” Duval said, “police officers are lost in the line of duty protecting the rights of citizens. Tactical response units go into known lethal, hostile situations.

“And 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.”

 Tom Aspell, John Duval & Brian LeBrun conspire to bring militarized vehicle to Concord

The New Hampshire Civil Liberties Union [NHCLU] is concerned about over-militarized policing tactics, and for likely good reason:

In its grant application to DHS, 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.”

[Devon] Chaffee [of NHCLU] called that language “alarming.”

“It’s far from clear to us why an armored vehicle would be necessary to address what are generally, by and large, non-violent movements that in fact provide little or no threat to the security of our state,” she said.

Since the BearCat is not directly filled with offensive weapons, the police characterize it as no different than a Kevlar vest, essentially.

[Lt. Mark] Sanclemente [of Manchester, NH, SWAT] said the vehicle has been used when police serve drug search warrants or respond to incidents involving weapons; it’s also gone to surrounding towns when police request assistance….

Sanclemente noted that Manchester’s BearCat also is parked in a “low-profile location” during political events such as presidential appearances. “It’s nearby, it’s not out so that everyone can see it, but it’s still close if it’s needed.”

I’m sure it is! Local cops ridin’ around in a Bearcat, Jim: these are different times.

Free Press publications has the actual application for the vehicle.

I wrote a big Reason feature on the Free State Project near its beginnings, back in 2004. Garrett Quinn revisited the topic for us in our June print magazine.

Reason on police desire to overmilitarize.

Former Reason reporter and editor Radley Balko’s very important new book The Rise of the Warrior Cop.

Learn more about the Bearcat from its sellers. And Reason on the Bearcat’s use in civilian policing.

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Keene councilman says $285,933 BearCat courtesy of Uncle Sam ‘a waste of money’

union leader concord bearcat copblock Tom Aspell, John Duval & Brian LeBrun conspire to bring militarized vehicle to Concordby Paul Feely & Meghan Pierce at the Union Leader on July 28th, 2013

The official who in 2011 opposed purchasing an armored truck for the Keene Police Department still thinks it was a waste of money, but agencies with similar vehicles are happy to have them.

The Lenco BearCat – short for Ballistic Engineered Armored Response Counter Attack Truck – stirred controversy when Keene accepted a $285,933 federal Homeland Security grant to purchase it last year. In addition to cost, worries included the potential for police misuse of the 19,000-pound vehicle.

As a condition of the purchase, Keene police were required to report how the BearCat was used in its first six months since it was delivered in November 2012. According to the report, the BearCat was used 21 times: for 19 training exercises, one report of a suicidal person and one report of barricaded person. It was also displayed at City Safety Day.

In December 2011, Keene Ward 3 Councilor Terry Clark cast the only dissenting vote in a 12-1 decision to accept the grant.

“It’s a waste of money,” Clark said this month. “It was a waste of money then, and it’s still a waste.

“I guess it hasn’t cost us much to maintain it, but almost $300,000 for a vehicle that has been used mostly for training, on two false-alarm calls and as a nice truck on Safety Day? Our government is so cash-strapped, there are much more important things this money could be spent on.”

The BearCat is an armored personnel carrier retrofitted with thick walls and glass that can stop high-caliber bullets. It can fit at least 10 police officers and is equipped with gun ports on each side and a rotating center hatch.

Besides Keene, the New Hampshire State Police, the Nashua Police Special Response Team, the Manchester Police SWAT Team, the Central New Hampshire Special Operations Unit based in Concord, the Southern New Hampshire Special Operations Unit in Derry and the Seacoast Advanced Response (SERT) Team in Portsmouth own similar vehicles. SERT serves 10 communities – Portsmouth, Stratham, Hampton, North Hampton, Epping, Exeter, Rye, Seabrook, Newington and Newmarket.

Nashua’s BearCat and members of its Special Response Team (SRT) were dispatched to Watertown, Mass., in April to assist in search efforts for Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzohkhar Tsarnaev. It was purchased in 2003 with drug forfeiture funds – money seized during drug investigations.

“We may only use it once a year, outside of training,” said Nashua Police Capt. James Lima, who heads up the SRT. “But when you do need it, everyone involved is glad it’s there.”

An armored SWAT vehicle was also dispatched the scene of a violent shootout in Greenland in April 2012 in which Greenland Police Chief Michael Maloney was killed and four other officers injured. The gunman, suspected drug dealer Cullen Mutrie, also killed his ex-girlfriend, Brittany Tibbetts, and himself in the incident.

SERT acquired its BearCat in 2005.

Portsmouth police Detective Lt. Michael Maloney, commander of SERT, said his team doesn’t keep a written account of how many times the vehicle is used, saying only that it’s deployed whenever the team is mobilized. He said it is deployed at least twice a month for training exercises.

“The times that it’s been used, the protection it offers is invaluable,” said Maloney. “We’re glad to have it, and I’d say it’s one of the most important pieces of equipment we have.”

Keene police train for several scenarios with the BearCat, including crowd control during a riot, said Keene Police Chief Kenneth Meola. The BearCat can shield officers from glass bottles or other projectiles. Other training sessions simulated using it to help evacuate people caught in harm’s way during a standoff.

Costs beyond the initial purchase have included $200 to write “Keene Police” on the BearCat, $315 to install a radio system, $154.42 for fuel costs and $49 for its state inspection. There were no maintenance costs to report.

“So, you are looking at about $200 (annually) for gas and the inspection sticker,” Keene police Capt. Brian Costa said.

Keene’s BearCat can be used by other town’s in Cheshire County. These towns are asked to sign a pact with Keene police and pay $100 in yearly dues for maintenance costs.

When flash floods devastated Westmoreland at the beginning of July, the Keene BearCat was not deployed. Keene Mayor Kendall Lane said Westmoreland chose not to sign the pact, but if it had asked for assistance, Keene would have deployed its BearCat.

“Events like a flood, that was one of the reasons thrown around for getting the BearCat, and people aren’t even thinking of asking for it,” said Clark. “Again, a waste.”

Mayor Lane said Keene officials are happy not to have to deploy it.

“We would be very happy if it never got used, but like a lot of pieces of equipment that the police and fire departments have, it’s there, it’s available if needed,” Lane said.

_____________________

Civil Liberties Union questions increasing use of costly military-style equipment by NH law enforcement

by Shawne Wikham at the Union Leader on July 27th, 2013

lenco bearcat manchester police copblock Tom Aspell, John Duval & Brian LeBrun conspire to bring militarized vehicle to Concord

The Manchester Police Department’s BearCat. (Thomas Roy/Union Leader)

Concord is poised to accept $258,000 in federal funding to buy an armored vehicle that police say would provide protection for officers and civilians alike during a terrorist attack, riot or shooting incident.

But some – notably the New Hampshire Civil Liberties Union – are questioning the increasing use of what they call “militarized” equipment by civilian police forces.

Concord’s City Council will hold a public hearing on Aug. 12 about the proposed purchase of a BearCat G3 rescue vehicle, paid for entirely by a grant from the Department of Homeland Security.

The police department applied for the grant on behalf of the Central New Hampshire Special Operations Unit, which includes 20 local communities, Merrimack County Sheriff’s Office and Plymouth State University. The SOU has an “early 80s-vintage” Peacekeeper armored vehicle, but it needs to be repaired “constantly,” Concord Police Chief John Duval said.

Concord’s City Council unanimously approved the grant application for a new BearCat last fall, according to Duval. But in the months since, some have raised concerns about just how and when such a vehicle would be used.

Duval said he understands concerns about government overreach, especially in light of recent revelations about government surveillance of telephone and email records. But he said those questions need to be asked “in context.”

Built on a Ford chassis, the BearCat, Duval said, is “an armor-plated box on wheels.”

“That’s all it is. It is not digital communication, it’s not a listening device, it’s not weaponry, it’s not any of those things.

“Every year,” Duval said, “police officers are lost in the line of duty protecting the rights of citizens. Tactical response units go into known lethal, hostile situations.

“And 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.”

But Devon Chaffee, executive director of the New Hampshire Civil Liberties Union, said the national ACLU is concerned about the “militarization” of police departments across the country.

The ACLU has submitted more than 255 requests for information to law enforcement agencies across the country regarding the use of “counter-terrorism tactics and of military equipment,” she said.

The NHCLU has sought such records from police in Concord, Derry, Keene, Manchester and Portsmouth, Chaffee said. “What we’re trying to do is really shed light on what is happening with regard to the increased use of militarized tactics and equipment by domestic police,” she said. “Because we think that the public has a right to know.”

And what she got back from Concord only increased her concern, Chaffee said.

In its grant application to DHS, 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.”

Chaffee called that language “alarming.”

“It’s far from clear to us why an armored vehicle would be necessary to address what are generally, by and large, non-violent movements that in fact provide little or no threat to the security of our state,” she said.

Duval said it’s not so much organized groups that concern police.

“It’s in those cases where things escalate for whatever reason by fringe people who attach themselves to these groups, because of the topic that is being expressed, that it becomes a catalyst for a lethal situation.

“We have to be prepared to protect our law-abiding citizens,” he said. “And that’s our core function, to protect life and property.”

Chaffee said she’s concerned that “having militarized equipment and using militarized tactics will result in escalation of violence.”

And she asked, “Is this vehicle really going to be limited to those extreme circumstances that have been cited by the Concord police?”

Duval takes issue with the description of the BearCat as a “militarized” vehicle. It has no weapons or offensive equipment, he said; he likens it to the Kevlar vests that police officers wear to protect themselves.

He cited a shooting incident in upstate New York last December in which police used a BearCat to safely remove 30 residents from a neighborhood under fire.

“The essential function of this vehicle is to deploy people safely and to remove people, possibly, safely from a lethal situation.”

Lt. Mark Sanclemente is assistant commander of the Manchester SWAT team, which has had a BearCat since 2007.

“We use it as a protective vehicle,” he said. “It protects our officers, it’s there to protect the public.”

Sanclemente said the vehicle has been used when police serve drug search warrants or respond to incidents involving weapons; it’s also gone to surrounding towns when police request assistance.

And the SWAT team took it to Watertown, Mass., last April to assist in the search for the accused Boston Marathon bomber.

“It doesn’t get out every day. It’s very, very limited,” he said. “It’s a personnel carrier, and it gives us an option to keep our officers safe.”

Sanclemente noted that Manchester’s BearCat also is parked in a “low-profile location” during political events such as presidential appearances. “It’s nearby, it’s not out so that everyone can see it, but it’s still close if it’s needed.”

He said he thinks most people understand why the BearCat would be needed in certain situations. “I think the majority of the public likes knowing that we have that vehicle as an option. It’s there to protect the community, and that’s all it is.”

But Chaffee said the presence of such equipment has a negative effect on the communities in which they’re used. “You see that type of vehicle operating in your community, and it has a real impact on the sense of security,” she said.

“That’s part of why there needs to be real careful consideration of how this equipment is used.”

Duval said there are legitimate questions about the appropriate use of SWAT teams.

“As a police chief, I don’t want our citizens to feel that their police department is becoming a quasi-military unit,” he said. “We pride ourselves on community policing.”

But he said, “The reality of it is, unfortunately, we have an increasing amount of lethal situations that without the appropriate assets, law enforcement is at a disadvantage to protect our citizens.”

Duval said he also understands questions about spending taxpayer money on such vehicles, which might only be used a few times.

But he noted Concord’s BearCat would be available to assist any police agency that requests it. “And to me, that is a level of security for this state that is money very, very well-spent,” he said.

_____________________

Top Secret America: New Hampshire

an excerpt from the Washington Post on September, 2010

“New Hampshire is one of 15 states and territories that the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. intelligence agencies assess as having no specific foreign or domestic terrorism threat; is one of 15 states that have had no terrorism convictions since Sept. 11, 2001, according to the Justice Department; and is one of 18 states that have no metropolitan area that has been designated by the federal government as “high-threat, high-density” with regard to acts of terrorism.”

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  1. BEARCAT Hysteria Hits Concord | FreeConcord.org - 2013/07/30

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