California Shooting Fugitive

A Placer County Sheriff’s Department BearCat armored vehicle drives down Greenbrae Road in Rocklin, California, on July 9, 2023. Sara Nevis / The Sacramento Bee via AP

The Brunswick Town Council will decide Monday whether to spend $380,000 to replace the police department’s armored vehicle.

Police Chief Scott Stewart asked the council to approve the purchase of a new BearCat, built by Massachusetts-based Lenco and used by law enforcement agencies across the country. It would replace the department’s 1989 Peacekeeper military armored vehicle, which the Department of Defense donated to the town in 2015.

“The vehicle is at end of its life with many parts no longer available for repairs,” Stewart wrote in a memo to the council. “It has been towed twice in the past year and has sat out of service for more than 2 months while a mechanical modification could be figured out to get it operational. On numerous instances, the vehicle simply would not start.”

It’s the only armored police vehicle in the Midcoast and has been deployed across the region, including in response to the Lewiston shootings last year. Stewart said it’s a vital asset.

“An armored vehicle is used to not only get team members into positions where they can be properly deployed towards an armed situation, but also close enough to rescue potential hostages, as well as communicate and negotiate with barricaded subjects,” Stewart wrote.

The closest police agencies with an armored vehicle are in Augusta and Portland.

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“Both Agencies have agreed to send their armored vehicle if asked,” Stewart wrote. “However, response times could be 2 hours and, more importantly, those agencies have pointed out they may already be utilizing the vehicle in their own town.”

When the council approved accepting the Peacekeeper in 2015, some officials and residents objected, saying it was wasteful.

“This is not (Los Angeles),” former councilor Karen Klatt said at the time. “It is a stretch to say we need this for our police department.”

Stewart said an armored vehicle is “essential” for protecting police and helping citizens.

The police chiefs of Bath, Topsham, Freeport and Lisbon, as well as Cumberland County Sheriff Kevin Joyce, wrote letters to the council supporting the BearCat purchase.

“While the purchase of an armored vehicle is expensive and often resisted by some members of the public, the equipment is essential when needed,” Joyce wrote. “Unfortunately, even in Maine, we are starting to see gun violence increasing and the need for numerous tactical teams and armored tactical vehicles will be needed more than ever.”

If the council approves the purchase, the vehicle would be delivered in about a year, and Stewart said the department plans to apply for a Department of Homeland Security grant to help offset the cost.

According to Lenco’s website, its newest BearCat model has a V8 turbo diesel engine, steel armor, off-road capabilities and can fit 10-12 officers.

“The increased ground clearance and robust suspension allows for emergency response in rural regions and natural disaster scenarios where standard armored SWAT vehicles would experience challenges,” the company says.


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