Buckeye Bearcat Vehicle Purchase Lastest Example of Federal Waste; Town of 40,000 to Buy $250,000 Armored Vehicle

The Town of Buckeye needs a $250,000 armored vehicle like it needs another foreclosure sign -- but that's what it's getting thanks to federal largess.

The federal Homeland Security department gave Buckeye a grant for the 8.5-ton Lenco Bearcat vehicle. It's supposed to arrive by May of next year, reports the West Valley View newspaper.

How utterly absurd.


Buckeye was one of the fastest growing communities in the country before the market crash, growing from 6,500 people in 2000 to nearly 40,000 now. It's approved plans for hundreds of thousands of new homes, says Mayor Jackie Meck on the town's Web site. But the town may stay small for years with the Valley's growth stalled out, and it's finances are in the toilet.

A recent Arizona Republic story says Buckeye is running a $5 million deficit and plans to lay off firefighters and cops.

Maybe the town could lease out the Bearcat to a city that can afford employees.

True, the grant requires Buckeye to lend the vehicle to other communities, if need be. But as the View article suggests, Bearcats and their bigger siblings, BEAR vehicles, are already owned by police departments in Phoenix, Goodyear, Glendale, Tempe, and Scottsdale. Chandler police has its BATT vehicle, and the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office has its own mini-tank (remember when deputies used it to accidentally smash a parked car in 2004?)

Image: Jackie Mercandetti
A Sheriff's Office armored vehicle crushed a car in 2004.

Surely, in this economy, the Valley could make do with only seven armored vehicles.


If Janet Napolitano, Homeland Security Secretary and former Arizona governor, wants to hand out Lenco vehicles, we'll take the overblown -- but cool-looking -- Lenco SUV (below). We guarantee our vehicle would see more use than Buckeye's.



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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.