Keene city council voted 12-1 in December to accept a Homeland Security grant of more than $285,000. This grant would allow the Keene Police Department to purchase a LENCO BearCat, an armored vehicle whose intended use was never quite specified.

However, backlash began recently over the council’s acceptance of the grant. A hearing was put together this weekend allowing residents who were angry over the council’s decision. Approximately 20 people spoke out against the council’s decision, urging members to reconsider their positions.

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The council’s decision to purchase the vehicle came under scrutiny as citizens questioned the need for such a vehicle in an area like Keene. The supporters of the vehicle often cite the vehicles usefulness in rescue situations as well as transporting S.W.A.T. Team members to and from locations where they are needed. However, citizens were concerned that the police would be willing to abuse their new toy and potentially create fear within the community.

As college students, the KSC community should be especially wary of the police and their new toy, the BearCat. In the application for the Homeland Security grant, police cited Pumpkin Fest as one of the times when this vehicle had the potential to be useful to the police and the community.

Pumpkin Fest has come under fire lately for the actions taken by college students during the annual weekend of revelry and drinking. It’s not inconceivable to imagine the police using this vehicle to intimidate students who are causing a ruckus in the area. While this initially seems like a good use for the vehicle, for some, using methods of intimidation such as the BearCat would be an abuse of police power.

Before students stand by and allow the police to acquire a vehicle of the caliber of a LENCO BearCat, perhaps students should consider whom the vehicle is most likely to be used against. It’s not Keene residents who have a history of drunken shenanigans; it’s the Keene State College students who are bound to get unruly and require actions from the LENCO BearCat. This isn’t a vehicle to rescue, it’s a vehicle to intimidate.


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