Police in Concord, NH apply for armored vehicle to fight ‘Free Staters,’ occupiers, sovereign citizens
By Madison Ruppert
Editor of End the Lie
Concord, New Hampshire police may soon accept $258,000 in federal money to purchase an armored vehicle, citing the need to protect police and others from threats including “the Sovereign Citizens, Free Staters and Occupy New Hampshire.”
In Georgia alone, police acquired some $200 million worth of military-grade weaponry and equipment.
A public hearing will be held about the proposed purchase of a BearCat G3 armored vehicle on August 12. The vehicle would be paid for by a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) grant, according to New Hampshire Union Leader.
While the grant was filed by the Concord Police Department, the department filed it on behalf of a group of 20 local communities, the Merrimack County Sheriff’s Office and Plymouth State University, under the umbrella of the Central New Hampshire Special Operations Unit.
The grant application was unanimously approved last fall by the Concord City Council, according to Concord Police Chief John Duval, but since that time people have been raising concerns about the vehicle.
Some of those concerns are being raised by the New Hampshire Civil Liberties Union (NHCLU).
After all, the application stated, “Groups such as the Sovereign Citizens, Free Staters and Occupy New Hampshire are active and present daily challenges.”
It also cited “several homegrown clusters that are anti-government and pose problems for law enforcement agencies.”
Devon Chaffee of NHCLU called the language used in the application “alarming.”
“It’s far from clear to us why an armored vehicle would be necessary to address what are generally, by and large, non-violent movements that in fact provide little or no threat to the security of our state,” Chaffee said.
However, the police do not consider it the vehicle to be any different than a Kevlar vest, since it is not directly equipped with offensive weapons.
Lt. Mark Sanclemente of the SWAT unit in Manchester, New Hampshire which has had a BearCat since 2007 said, “We use it as a protective vehicle. It protects our officers, it’s there to protect the public.”
He said they’ve used it to serve drug search warrants, when responding to incidents involving weapons and it has been deployed to surrounding towns when requested.
Sanclemente also said that their BearCat is parked in a “low profile location” during political events like presidential appearances.
“It’s nearby, it’s not out so that everyone can see it, but it’s still close if it’s needed,” he said.
“I think the majority of the public likes knowing that we have that vehicle as an option,” Sanclemente continued. “It’s there to protect the community, and that’s all it is.”
Chaffee disagrees, noting, “You see that type of vehicle operating in your community, and it has a real impact on the sense of security.”
“That’s part of why there needs to be real careful consideration of how this equipment is used,” Chaffee said.
“As a police chief, I don’t want our citizens to feel that their police department is becoming a quasi-military unit,” Duval said. “We pride ourselves on community policing.”
Yet it seems that at least some of the citizens feel that is precisely what their police department, like so many others, is doing.
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