Armored police vehicle Lenco BearCat G3 – The vehicle is “militarizing” the police department?

At the end of Tuesday night’s Assembly meeting, the planned purchase of an armored vehicle for use by the Juneau Police Department was front and center.

The vehicle, a custom-built Lenco BearCat G3, is slated to set the police department back just more than $300,000 when purchased.

JPD's Campbell: Armored police vehicle not a 'military' unit - KINY


The vehicle can withstand gunfire from rifles, according to JPD Lt. Krag Campbell, which is something ballistic vests and current police vehicles cannot.

“We’ve been looking at trying to get an armored rescue vehicle for quite some time,” Campbell said. “We’ve had quite a few high-risk situations with our police officers and our tactical teams going on in the past 20 years … so, it’s something we’ve been looking into and have had a desire to get it.”

The $300,000 cost, Campbell says, is well within reach now, however, thanks to federal grant money.

Not a tank: Town OKs BearCat purchase after community discussion


“Probably the biggest limiting function is the cost,” Campbell said. “We’ve tried to look at some ways to fund the project. And I think in the past 10 years, I think we started a little more seriously looking at ‘Hey, can we do this? Costs have kind of come down, and the availability is more out there. About a year and a half ago is when we were looking at getting a grant, and we did get a grant through Homeland Security to purchase a vehicle.”

Campbell says high-risk calls JPD has been facing are the number one reasons the department is seeking to buy the vehicle.

“It boils down to just trying to keep officers safe when they go to high-risk calls, where maybe someone who has a firearm and we don’t have the ballistic capabilities to keep officers safe,” Campbell said. “This gives us the ability to have officers be able to do their job while being safe.”

There was outcry from an elected official that the vehicle is “militarizing” the police department.

BearCat' to assist police in hostile situations | Police truck, Police  cars, Armored truck


Assembly member Carole Triem spoke out forcefully against the purchase.

“If this had come to the Assembly out of a decision-making point, I would have objected to this because I think there’s a policy question here about militarizing our community police force, and I don’t agree with that,” Triem said. “It’s too late now, I think, to object to this purchase, but I would ask that in the future, things like this, be more public, be more transparent. Probably the best way to do that is to bring them to the Assembly. I know that adds to our workload, but I think we heard really strongly from the community that they really desire transparency when it comes to JPD and their operations.”

Armored vehicle now in hand, CRPD already using it to resolve dangerous  situations | The Gazette

Campbell denied the vehicle is military in nature and would be used for public safety purposes.


“The vehicle that we’re trying to get is not a military vehicle,” Campbell said. “It is a purpose-built vehicle for first responders, specifically for law enforcement. The company, Lenco, does make vehicles that the military purchases, but it’s not a military vehicle. It really is a law enforcement vehicle.”



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