Brunswick’s Finance Committee on Monday night voted to recommend the town purchase a $380,000 BearCat armored vehicle for the police department. Now, the Town Council will decide whether to move ahead with the controversial purchase.

Earlier this year, Brunswick police requested the new armored vehicle to replace the department’s aging Peacekeeper, which was donated by the U.S. military. That request has stirred up tension among some community members concerned about police use of military equipment and among councilors concerned about the expense. Others have argued the vehicle would bring about peace of mind for Brunswick and surrounding communities that could use the vehicle.

The Peacekeeper, which is typically deployed to armed standoffs where it can shield officers and victims, was described as a liability in the first memorandum to the city.

If the Town Council approves the request, the Brunswick Police Department aims to purchase the G3 BearCat model from Massachusetts-based company Lenco, which describes the vehicle as a “standard vehicle in U.S. SWAT.”

During Monday’s meeting, locals expressed concerns over the perceived militarization of Brunswick’s police force and the image armored vehicle may give of the community. Brunswick resident John Hodapp said that he has had growing concerns of the militarization of police over the past 15 years in a “small and peaceful community.”

“Perhaps the money could be better spent at helping the police force with further training [to help] officers interact with people that are in a bad place,” Hodapp said during the meeting. “I just don’t see an armored vehicle solving those problems for us.”


Police Chief Scott Stewart said that Brunswick police already uses de-escalation tactics in its policing. According to Stewart, officers receive mental health training every year and the department maintains a crisis negotiation team trained by the FBI.

“It’s a reactive vehicle, it’s not a proactive vehicle,” Stewart said. “As far as looking aggressive — that isn’t the case. There are military options for us that we don’t want because [of] the look — but also, they are so big and not practical.”

Martin Rinaldi, commander of support services for the Brunswick Police Department, said in the meeting that he would “be the last one to want to militarize” the Brunswick police and would be happy if the vehicle “sat in the garage.” The current vehicle, he said, has already been used for life-saving measures in the past.

In the meeting, Finance Committee members addressed public concerns about mental health and community policing.

“From what I know about the department, they have lots of areas in which they believe in and play out community policing. Can they do more of it? I think so,” said District 6 Councilor Nathaniel Shed. “But we hire a chief to make their own priorities and work with the manager, and things will evolve. I think everything is an ongoing process around the way we interact with our civilians.”

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