By Sanjiv Sathiah
Saturday, Feb 18th, 2012 @ 11:49 pm
 
New Hampshire residents in Keene have managed to block a plan by its council to purchase what was described by its Mayor Kendall Lane as a "tank.' The Lenco Industries BearCat G3 was set to be added to the local law enforcement fleet at a cost of $285,933, courtesy of a grant from the Department of Homeland Security.

One of the town's 23,000 residents, Mike Clark (27), took it upon himself to start a petition opposing the plan once local residents got wind of the deal, according to The Huffington Post. Clark himself is no stranger to local authorities and is currently facing a charge of criminal mischief. "The police are already pretty brutal,' Clark said having been on the receiving end their enforcement methods. "The last thing they need is this big piece of military equipment to make them think they're soldiers.'

More after video


It seems that quite a few of Keene's citizens agree with Clark, who managed to collect over 500 signatures opposing the council's plan. This was followed by a heated council meeting on February 9 where over 100 citizens packing council chambers with most there to oppose the acquisition of the BearCat.

The Pentagon has offered military equipment to police departments for free or heavily discounted since the 90s. Following the September 11 attacks, this trend accelerated with Homeland Security grants offered to cities and towns totaling $34 billion. As a result, defense contractors have been looking to cash in on what is has become a lucrative market. Even with steep budget cuts by the Obama administration, spending on counter-terrorism remains strong, with the "homeland security market' expected to reach $19 billion annually by 2014.

Unsurprisingly Lenco were not impressed by the town's decision to block the acquisition of the BearCat G3. "I don't think there's any place in the country where you can say, 'That isn't a likely terrorist target,' Lenco spokesman Jim Massery said. "How would you know? We don' t know what the terrorists are thinking,' he added. "No one predicted that terrorists would take over airplanes on Sept. 11. If a group of terrorists decide to shoot up a shopping mall in a town like Keene, wouldn't you rather be prepared?'

As for the video reposted on YouTube by Mike Clark, but which was deleted from the Lenco website following the Keene City Council meeting where it was aired: "That video is totally irrelevant,' Massery said. "We used some Hollywood effects and slick marketing to promote our product. So what?'