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Keene councilman says $285,933 BearCat courtesy of Uncle Sam 'a waste of money'
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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.
"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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
Mayor Lane said Keene officials are happy not to have to deploy it.
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