Model of a BearCat, produced by Massachusetts-based company Lenco. Courtesy of Brunswick Police Department

Brunswick police will get a new armored vehicle after the Town Council approved the $380,000 purchase at a meeting Tuesday night.

The 7-2 decision comes after a series of contentious meetings where councilors heard public concerns of police militarization, lack of funding for mental health services and whether the vehicle, the BearCat, was a proper use of town funds. Despite public opposition, the council approved the request.

District 5 Councilor Jennifer Hicks and At-Large Councilor Nathan MacDonald were the only dissenting votes.

MacDonald said he had not seen this much opposition for a Town Council issue in a while, adding that it would be unconscionable for him to go against the wishes of the people.

Hicks said she worried that approving the request amid strong opposition from the public would damage trust in the council.

“I think we have one of the best police forces in the state, I’m really proud of them,” Hicks said. “But I’m very conflicted, and I’m not feeling like this is the right thing for us to do right now.”


Many of the councilors who voted in favor cited concerns about public safety if the police didn’t have an armored vehicle. Several clarified that they also want to look at allocating more funding to social services to address mental health concerns.

Councilor Abbey King, who attended the meeting remotely, said while she struggled with the decision to vote in favor of the request, she wanted to make sure that bolstering mental health was a future priority.

Councilor Stephen Walker concurred that the decision was tough and echoed the sentiment to fully fund social services.

“The issue that I see with the mental health argument is that mental health services are only effective when people enroll in the help provided,” Walker said. “And unfortunately, what we see over and over again is as accessible and welcoming and normalized as we make pursuing mental health treatment, there’s a certain segment that never will be willing to admit they need it or never realizes they need it and never pursue it, and that’s when we get bad actors out there.”

Stewart said that the decision will give Brunswick’s Special Response Team, a specially trained unit within the police department, the resources it needs.

“I do acknowledge and respect everybody’s position,” Police Chief Scott Stewart said after the Tuesday night decision. “But my job is to do what’s in the best interest of public safety.”

The police requested the vehicle earlier this year to replace the department’s current armored vehicle, the Peacekeeper, which Stewart said is no longer dependable.

Brunswick police hope to purchase the G3 model of the BearCat, which is produced by Massachusetts-based company Lenco. The new vehicle will be smaller than the Peacekeeper.

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