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Concord Chief Apologizes for Armored Vehicle Grant Comments

Duval: Free State Project, Occupy “are not terrorists”; but Bearcat is needed to replace aging Peacekeeper.

Concord Police Chief John Duval talks about the Bearcat request controversy. Credit: Tony Schinella
Concord Police Chief John Duval talks about the Bearcat request controversy. Credit: Tony Schinella

John Duval, the chief of the Concord Police Department, has come under fire in recent weeks for requesting that the Concord City Council accept a $258,000 federal grant to purchase a Lenco Bearcat armored vehicle for the department, a move that some have called “militarizing” local police.

Duval stated that the city needed the Bearcat to replace a three-decade-old USAF Peacekeeper, a similar vehicle, which was obtained by the department in 1981 through a surplus military equipment grant program. If approved, the Bearcat would be used by the Central New Hampshire Special Operations Unit, a SWAT team of sorts for a number of towns from Concord up I-93 to Lincoln, to be used in certain enforcement situations.

In the grant application, Duval wrote that he was concerned that a number of groups, including the Free State Project and Occupy New Hampshire, “presented daily challenges” and that home ground clusters of anti-government in nature pose problems for police forces, including Concord’s.

The comments have sparked outrage from both organizations as well the New Hampshire Civil Liberties Union and the editorial page of the New Hampshire Union Leader. An online petition is also circulating calling on the council to reject the proposal and for the resignations of Duval, City Manager Tom Aspell, and Deputy City Manager Brian LeBrun. 

While he stands by the basic premise that there are situations where the Bearcat is needed in the Central NH ops unit, Duval apologized for any offense citing the groups may have caused. He said that he was limited to three pages of space to explain why the unit needed the Bearcat and that limited the amount of text he was able to offer in the request.

“The three organizations that I mentioned … I do not believe they are terrorist groups,” Duval said. “I don’t know how clearer I can say that. I don’t believe that they are … it was a poorly worded sentence and paragraph and I’m sorry for that.”

Duval said the “intent of using them as example” was that there are people in the community who are politically “polarizing” who “attach themselves” to the otherwise law abiding groups and have caused situations that are lethal and disturbing that concern law enforcement.

“That was the intent of the following words, that they are ‘home grown clusters,’” he said. “There are individuals, who, in their own mind, rally themselves and identify themselves to this particular cause or that and take their behaviors and their views to an extreme level, that are criminal in nature, that cause disruption with quality of life and lethal situations in this country and we’ve seen that in a variety of different ways, for whatever reasons.”

Duval said the Bearcat was used to transport people from one place to another during extreme situations where officers would be in danger. Concord has been a part of the Central New Hampshire Special Operations Unit since 2007 when the department decided it would be better and more affordable, and has brought about a number of incidents ending safely, he said. Duval added that law enforcement needed to be prepared "for the rare situations" when the Bearcat was needed. 

The Concord City Council will decide on Aug. 12, whether or not to accept a federal grant to purchase the Bearcat. 

John Edward Royal August 18, 2013 at 05:27 PM
Occupy are determined to be a non violent organization and has very innovative methods to protest yet except for Federal, State and local law enforcement that insert agents to undermine and instigate violence from within they have maintained a stand of non violence, There have been others organized to exploit protests Like in California Dressed in black with ski masks that burned neighborhoods Possibly connected with law enforcement to turn the general populace against Occupy. Occupy the next morning went and help clean up the mess and assisted business owners to repair damage and to reopen their businesses within days. Occupy is not a terrorist organization at least in this country. yet the Tea Party occupy public places and are armed to the teeth when they protest and even threaten violence here and their planned marches elsewhere. I don't see police beating their 60 year old disable women in that group like they beat and mace and arrest occupy protesters who insist that the wall street and government receive the criminal investigations and prosecution they deserve.
JPF36 September 04, 2013 at 06:17 PM
Why haven't there been any charges filed against Chief Duval for INTENTIONALLY LYING ON A FEDERAL GRANT APPLICATION?? Since when is an apology for breaking the law acceptable? So I guess the next time someone INTENTIONALLY lies on say a Federal background check for a firearm that all they have to do is apologize and all is forgiven?? That isn't the case so why is this treated any differently??? He LIED AND SHOULD BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE Plain and simple. I guess there really is a DOUBLE STANDARD,
Alex Langlois September 20, 2013 at 12:55 PM
This guy should step down from his position... and perhaps move to Russia or China and be a Police Cheif over there.. where the Police State Mentality is alive and well and he can feel more at home. I'm sure he will have hundreds of military vehicles, planes, bombs, and bullets to use against the local citizens at a whim.
robo hiker September 21, 2013 at 05:34 AM
Why would Concord Police need to repsond to an event in Sugar Hill, I thought that's what the State Police are for? Thank You
robo hiker September 21, 2013 at 05:40 AM
Tin soldiers and Nixon coming. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YnOoNM0U6oc

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