It was a cold and rainy morning as the Bearcat attack truck was put on display to the public for the first time in Keene, New Hampshire. Between nine and eleven ante meridiem, the Ballistic Engineered Armored Response Counter Attack Truck was on display with the motor running and the rear doors open, revealing the personnel carrying compartment which seats eight. With the driver and passenger seat, the truck fits ten commandos comfortably, and came standard with no less than ten gun ports. While the KPD didn’t receive the additional gas injector arm, LRAD, or a .50 caliber to mount atop their rotating turret, the powerful fixed FLIR camera gives the department new vision as hunters. The infrared lens can see warm bodies in the darkness, as the image is created by detecting thermal signatures instead of light, akin to the alien antagonist in the sci-fi thriller Predator.
Among those who braved the weather, there was much speculation as to how the Bearcat would be first put to use. While those who tried selling the prospect of the Bearcat to the people claimed it could be used as a rescue vehicle, tour guides acknowledged that it was a standard Ford pickup truck on an enhanced frame with armor. It is not capable of traversing flood waters any more than its unarmored counterpart, beyond the additional elevation provided by the large wheels.
The attack truck is equipped with environmental detectors on the exterior of the vehicle. The sensors are capable of recognizing certain chemical, biological, and radiation dangers. However, the interior itself is in no way insulated from any of these potential threats, as it does not have its own pressurized cabin. The boondoggle also features three spotlights, and all the flashes and noises one would expect from a police vehicle.
The buck for the waste is passed to the US people at large, as Homeland Security grants funded the purchase from the well connected Lenco, manufacturer of the military-grade vehicles. While trying and ultimately succeeding in convincing Keene bureaucrats to take the money for the machine, Lenco yanked its own violent marketing video from its youtube channel, attempting to conceal the reality of what their attack truck’s intended purpose is. As it was, two trucks with ‘Rescue’ emblazoned on them were also present this morning at the city’s display, but they were fire department vehicles, and the words did not appear anywhere on the new military-green armored truck.
The crowd was split between protestors, represented by friends of Free Keene and local peace activists, and curious locals. Some city bureaucrats stood along the periphery and watched the civilians experience the next generation of militarized police hardware. Nobody went in or out of the truck, so as to maintain its clean, carpeted floors. The less exciting KPD crime scene unit van also had open doors, and kids were even being allowed to walk about it supervised, resulting in a soiled floor. Fortunately, it featured an easier to clean hard surface.
If the attack truck comes to be used for its specified purpose in combating terrorism, it would mean that Keene has come under the plague of such a menace as does not exist now. Likely, its use will go unreported as it transports a squad of armed men to break down the doors of suspected black market traders. I specifically asked one KPD officer today whether the police will take advantage of their new found FLIR capabilities to bust every underage imbiber who flees from a house party. He was unsure whether KPD has other FLIR cameras and seemed sure that nobody in his department would use such technology to combat what is considered a lesser offense. Realistically, nothing is stopping police from spending their personal paycheck on toys to use on the job which aren’t provided — granted that those items are not illegal and they will not be caught using them.
The first published video from the Bearcat’s premiere was uploaded by CaptainQuinn. A playlist of video uploaded by Pete Eyre and others is available on Fr33manTVraw, and a video of the Shire Choir serenading the new machine is available from Darryl W. Perry.
In international news, congratulations to Bradley Manning for being voted the UK Guardian’s Person of the Year for 2012 by a landslide margin.