The people of Keene are getting an object lesson in how the United States of America wound up with a $15 trillion national debt.
In December, the city council accepted a $285,933 Homeland Security grant to buy a BearCat Special Missions armored vehicle. It's a beauty. It looks like a vehicle the bad guys in a post-apocalyptic action movie die in.
The police say they need this heavily armored (not armed) off-road truck. Why? Well, sometimes it floods out there in Keene.
“We lost one cruiser directly in the flood trying to evacuate people from their homes,” Keene police Capt. Brian Costa told this newspaper last week. “We certainly would have used this vehicle in those floods.”
We don't blame them. The BearCat's bulletproof shell would have offered great protection against herds of bull moose rocketed downriver by raging flood waters. Also, it keeps out black flies, as long as the windows are rolled up.
Costa also said the truck would make Keene police officers safe. “All this vehicle is, it affords the first responders ... an added protection of safety.”
Have the hippies and breast-bearing pot smokers begun hiding rocket-propelled grenade launchers in their guitar cases? What prowls the maple-lined avenues of Keene to spook its police officers so?
The grant that would purchase this “Special Missions” vehicle is from the Department of Homeland Security. It comes from money that is supposed to protect the United States from international terrorists. We have never heard a spring flood yell “Allahu Akbar!” But maybe the waters around Keene recently have been radicalized.
Or maybe the Keene police feel left out. Nashua and Manchester police and the regional SWAT teams in Derry and Belknap County have BearCats, paid for by Homeland Security grants. What's another quarter-million dollars to buy one for Keene? We can just add it to the bill the Chinese will hand our grandkids some day.