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Apr 29, 2019 3:22 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

East Hampton Wants To Use Donation For BearCat Armored Vehicle For Police Department

Variants of the Bearcat armored vehicle are in use by more than 800 police, fire and rescue agencies around the county and have been the focus of criticism for the militarization of police departments. East Hampton Town is considering buying one with money it would recieve from an anonymous donor. Courtesy LenCo Armored Vehicles
Apr 30, 2019 1:13 PM

East Hampton Town is planning to purchase a “BearCat” armored vehicle for the East Hampton Town Police Department—using money from an anonymous donor.

The BearCat, which is described by its manufacturer as an “armored incident response and rescue vehicle,” is built by a Massachusetts company named LenCo for police and military agencies around the world. It boasts military-grade armoring and puncture-proof tires, and is sealed to protect occupants from airborne contamination or chemicals.

Town officials said the donor asked to remain anonymous but had approached the town with an interest in making a substantial donation that would contribute to security, especially as it may relate to school security.

A Town Board resolution earlier this month listed the price of the vehicle at about $307,000, and Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc said this week that the donation, should the town accept it, also would cover the maintenance cost of the highly specialized vehicle.

The resolution was tabled so board members could consider the proposal further. But Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc said that the acquisition of a BearCat has been high on the list of desired equipment among the chiefs of the East End’s various police departments. They have said they’d like at least one municipality to have one, so that it could be called into service for emergencies anywhere in the region.

East Hampton had applied for a federal Department of Homeland Security grant in 2016 to purchase a BearCat but was not one of the municipalities that got funding. At the time, the town had also been seeking funding for special training for some of its officers in the handling of the new vehicle.

The BearCat has become the vehicle of choice for many cities’ department SWAT teams and has also featured prominently in media coverage of riots in Ferguson, Missouri, and Baltimore, Maryland, in recent years. Because of its military-like appearance, the vehicle also has been a focus of criticism from some who fear that American police departments have become unnecessarily “militarized.”

But Mr. Van Scoyoc said he saw the town’s acquiring one of the armored vehicles as a sad reminder of events in the world that have, perhaps only by luck, not yet struck the East End.

“Unfortunately, it’s a response to what we seen in national trends,” he said. “With school shootings, and the shootings at churches, and like the one last week at the synagogue, our departments need to be in a position to respond should that kind of thing pop up. If you find yourself in that kind of situation and aren’t prepared to deal with it, it can be much worse.

“That doesn’t mean I would support police officers with AR-15s being stationed at the library fundraiser. But having that vehicle at the police station, ready to be deployed if necessary, is not such a bad thing.”

Southampton Town Police maintain an older armored vehicle, called a Peacekeeper, that was a predecessor to the BearCat in many police departments.

When the town sought the Homeland Security grant in 2016, town officials had also touted the vehicle’s off-road capabilities as a useful tool in evacuations from dangerous areas during or after a natural disaster like a hurricane.

More than 800 police departments across the United States, as well as numerous foreign agencies and military forces have purchased BearCat vehicles.

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Okay seriously East Hampton...are you kidding me?

I don't have access to the full article right now, but unless this thing is fire proof and can help rescue people from forest fires, this is absolutely INSANE!

What possible purpose would this military grade vehicle serve for the Town of East Hampton???

Call me crazy, but I don't like the idea of my local police department having access to vehicles developed for a war zone! We don't need to militarize our police force any ...more
By Enviro Guy (55), Southampton on Apr 29, 19 4:36 PM
1 member liked this comment
So thankful that there are generous donors out there willing to step up and ensure that the LenCo coportation of Mass. can offload another bearcat - what a waste.
By adlkjd923ilifmac.aladfksdurwp (747), southampton on Apr 29, 19 4:59 PM
EG, The town issues the cops real guns too...
By knitter (1941), Southampton on Apr 29, 19 6:53 PM
Yeah, guns I understand, but last time I checked, East Hampton wasn't an effin war zone. How on earth are you okay with your local police having a military vehicle?
By Enviro Guy (55), Southampton on Apr 30, 19 7:38 AM
Anybody remember the LARK that was donated and sat rusting away behind town hall? Did we at least get something for it when scrapped or did it cost the taxpayers to have it hauled off?
By dogtired (29), north sea on Apr 30, 19 9:24 AM
1 member liked this comment
They should park this next to the tank outside of that restaurant in Wainscott, or maybe near the cannon in Agawam park.

By adlkjd923ilifmac.aladfksdurwp (747), southampton on Apr 30, 19 8:43 PM
Totally a waste of money! People are watching to much TV.
By HPS71 (5), Southamptom on May 7, 19 12:51 PM