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Tanks? In Berkeley?

Area police agencies want a 'tactical intervention vehicle.' Wise purchase for war on terrorism or wasted dollars and threat to democracy? Take our poll.

An armored tank? At the Solano Stroll?

The North County Tactical Working Group -- Berkeley, Albany and UC police departments -- seeks homeland security funds to buy a "tactical intervention vehicle." The money, estimated in the low six figures, would come from the Urban Area Security Initiative.

Critics call trucks like the Lenco BearCat the latest must-have item for local police agencies and say the federal government is throwing money at cities to obtain them for use in riots, hostage situations or terrorist attacks. Supporters say they give police the competitive edge in situations that pose a threat to public safety.

The name BearCat stands for Ballistic Engineered Armored Response Counter Attack Truck. According to Police Vehicles magazine, "its 1.5-inch-thick steel armored bodywork is completed with ballistic glass capable of multi-hits, blast-resistant floors, specially designed gunports, roof hatches/turret and agency specific equipment and/or modifications such as lights/sirens/battering ram/winches/thermal cameras and spot lights."

According to PoliceOne magazine, the BearCat "easily can withstand hits from most common small arms, has plenty of room to accommodate not only a security crew but also ambush victims in need of rescue, maneuvers well, and can move out at high speeds when required."

The BearCat is already in use in at least 20 American cities, although voters in one -- Keene, New Hampshire -- are forcing the town council to send the $285,000, eight-ton vehicle back to its maker, believing it to be "completely unnecessary."

Funding has already been greenlighted to train officers in multiple assault counter-terrorism action capability.

Opponents say the kicker is how the working group justified the expenditure: Cal games and the Solano Stroll, they said, would be likely venues for terror attacks.

Take our poll -- then add your comments.

Paul D May 23, 2012 at 09:22 PM
A couple decades ago the Defense Dept contractors built gigantic bases in Saudi Arabia, fully stocking them with all the airplanes and equipment needed to arm a few fighter squadrons and army brigades.. or more. They knew that sooner or later we'd invade some poor saps country over there and wanted the gear already in place to save time. Why do you think the Defense Dept is pre-positioning all this other military hardware throughout the United States... just for the hell of it? Your freedoms are being ratcheted down, inch by inch. Don't act surprised. Take a good look at that vehicle. Doesn't take a genius to figure out its meant to be used in crowd-control situations. A crowd YOU might be part of in the near future.
Maxina Ventura May 25, 2012 at 07:42 AM
Let's think about all the good that $285,000 could do in the world. Feels surreal to think that in a city where the National Guard took over only decades ago and a young man was killed, guilty of simply watching others' actions, anyone would even begin to think that bringing in this tanker would be anything but a sick idea.
Norma J F Harrison May 26, 2012 at 04:03 AM
right. Norma www.peaceandfreedom.org Register, fight Prop 14. Keep socialism on the ballot.
Barbara Wilcox May 28, 2012 at 10:13 PM
$285,000 better spent on continuing education and training.

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