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Grand Traverse County approves purchase of BearCat police vehicle

Stock photo of a BearCat armored police vehicle from the manufacturer's website.
Lenco Armored Vehicles
Stock photo of a BearCat armored police vehicle from the manufacturer's website.

Grand Traverse County will purchase an armored police vehicle known as a BearCat. The county board of commissioners approved the purchase on Wednesday with a six to one vote. The vehicle will cost $260,599.

There are two other BearCats in northern Michigan that Traverse City has used in the past. One is in Grayling and the other is in Roscommon. Law enforcement usually requests one ahead of large events like the Cherry Festival, but it takes about two hours to arrive.

Sheriff Tom Bensley says in the event of an active shooter, the response needs to be much quicker.

“People think this is a quaint, quiet little area, but murders occur here,” said Bensley. “People don’t see that. They don’t have our view of a lot of these incidents.”

The board of commissioners held a special meeting Wednesday, just to vote on this issue. During public comment people objected to the increased atmosphere of police militarization.

Commissioner Betsy Coffia was the sole no vote. She said the money would be better used to support mental health services in the jail.

Commission Chair Rob Hentschel disagreed. He said the county could be doing more to support mental health, but money is not the problem.

Max Copeland is the local weekday host of All Things Considered on Interlochen Public Radio and the producer of The Up North Lowdown, IPR’s weekly news podcast.