A reader writes:
Thanks for covering this, as I find the militarization of our police a worrisome thing. The article you linked to talks about what are essentially tanks being sold to “90 of the 100 largest cities”. But this is by no means a big city issue. Look no further than my home town of Keene, New Hampshire to see how pervasive this has become. From one of the few articles written about how insidious this militarization of even small town police forces has become:
“Keene is a beautiful place. It’s gorgeous, and it’s safe, and we love it here. We just don’t want to live in the kind of place where there’s an armored personnel carrier parked outside of City Hall. I mean, it’s completely unnecessary. But it’s more than that. It’s just not who we are.” Some city council members have said that because the vehicle will be paid for by a federal grant, the town would be foolish not to take it. O’Meara doesn’t buy it. “They try to say it’s ‘free.’ Well it isn’t free. Taxpayers are still paying to put this militaristic thing in our town. And it isn’t about the money, anyway. It’s about what kind of town we want to be.”
You should especially watch the [above] video of how Lenco marketed these things before the publicity here in Keene caused them to pull it down. Supporters point to police safety (and what politician can be seen arguing against that), but the video reminds us that trouble with giving small-town police an expensive, armored toy like this is that the temptation to use it even for trivial things, like breaking up a drunken frat party, becomes overwhelming.