Brunswick Town Council is set to vote a second time Tuesday on the police department’s request for a new armored vehicle, a purchase that has sparked contentious debate since February.

The $380,000 request is for a BearCat, an armored vehicle used frequently by S.W.A.T. teams in the U.S. Police Chief Scott Stewart submitted the request in February to replace an older armored vehicle used by the town’s Special Response Team. The Town Council passed the request to the Finance Committee, which ultimately recommended in March that the council move forward with the purchase.

Residents at the March public meeting brought up concerns about militarizing the police and the financial cost to the town.

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

The BearCat is produced by Massachusetts-based company Lenco. Brunswick police hope to purchase the G3 model, which resembles a Hummer or a “heavy SUV” as described by Martin Rinaldi, commander of support services for the police department.

The new vehicle would be smaller than the current armored vehicle, the Peace Keeper, which has a turret on the top. 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 due to frequent breakdowns and maintenance issues.


At-Large Councilor James Ecker said in March that, in his mind, the need for the vehicle has been established. He also clarified that replacing the current armored vehicle was already on the town’s future financial schedule and that the only reason it came before the council was because the replacement was requested early.

District 6 Councilor Nathanial Shed said at the March meeting that he supports the request, though expressed that if the request had been made a couple years sooner, planning funding would have been be easier.

District 7 Councilor Steve Weems said there would be no added tax burden for the upcoming tax years. Instead, the request, if approved, would be funded through the police department’s vehicle replacement reserve. The department will still be encouraged to apply for grant funding, he said.

The Town Council meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in the council chambers.

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