Readers may already be familiar with the tiny town of Keene, NH despite its population of some 20,000 people in rural New Hampshire. The town has been a major site for the Free State Project and radio advertisements mentioning Keene are heard regularly when listening to Antiwar Radio on LRN.
You may or may not be familiar with Lenco Industries, a Pittsfield, MA-based company that manufactures heavily armored vehicles for government agencies. But even if you are familiar with both, you might not have imagined that the twain should ever meet.
But the Department of Homeland Security is seeing to it that they have, throwing $285,933 in grant money at the Keene city government to buy what their mayor referred to as “our own tank.”
Not exactly a tank, the Lenco Bearcat is a Armored Personnel Carrier marketed to city SWAT teams, and which comes complete with gun ports, battering ram and “tear gas deployment nozzle” with an eye toward “riot control.”
While the coolness factor seems to have been enough to sell the city government on the scheme, no one seems to have asked whether or not a small town with virtually no violent crime needs an APC. Normally, that’s where the story ends, with us shaking our heads. But Keene’s unique nature has spawned considerable backlash from the town’s libertarian movement.
Lenco, for their part, seems to have gotten a rude introduction to the whole “limited government” thing, and is scrambling to answer a question they never planned to be asked: why on earth would we want police to have this monstrosity?
The answer for them is “we don’t know what the terrorists are thinking,” saying it is better for the Keene, NH council to have a freaking tank and not need it than need it and not have it.
And if that doesn’t convince anyone, which lets face it, it won’t, Lenco has a personal attack for you. “I can’t help but think that the people who are trying to stop this just don’t think police officers’ lives are worth saving.”