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February 14

New London, CT: Call for Phone Zap Campaign to #ScrapTheCougar

Call from New London Mutual Aid for a phone zap campaign against police acquiring an armored police tank.

Recently our community was surprised by the unilateral acquisition of a six wheeled mine resistant armored car by our city police department. There was no public input and even the mayor was kept in the dark until it was already in the city. The public reaction has been characterized by great skepticism and in many cases anger.

The vehicle was acquired free of charge from the Marine Corps via a surplus program. However it will end up costing the city in maintenance costs and specialized training.

In response to the blowback, the police chief has insisted that it is not a step toward militarization, highlighting that the armored turret atop the vehicle, called a Cougar, contains no weapon, as if that matters.

Calls in the community have ranged from sending it back, to selling it to another community to fund other fiscal needs in the city, to just leaving it.

While we cannot be sure if this was done as a move toward militarization deliberately or not, the plain fact is that it is a step in that direction regardless of intention. We aren’t going to speculate on the nature of the intention, because the intention doesn’t change the resulting facts. It is true that our city cops do not have riot gear but with such a cavalier attitude toward unilateral acquisition, we wouldn’t be shocked if that is next in the name of “preparedness.”

We find it completely unacceptable that our police now have this type of equipment at their disposal. They have said it will only be used in rescue situations by NLPD and surrounding towns. We know history well enough to not trust government and their defenders when they make a promise.

While selling the vehicle to another city will provide New London with much needed funds, it is our position that this merely shifts the militarization somewhere else, and possibly to a department that is a little less apprehensive with shows of force.

This is why we are calling upon the city to scrap the Cougar. This sends a clear message that this is not acceptable and we will not push it on another community either. These have no place in our streets and in the hands of police. We have seen how departments across the country have abused the power such equipment grants. We don’t trust them and have no reason to.

It is true that the scrap value of such a vehicle is considerably lower than the retail value, we believe that the moral weight of this issue demands its destruction, not its relocation.

We urge anyone moved by these words to contact NLPD to demand that this Armored Personnel Carrier be melted down and the resulting funds be returned to the city.

We have an opportunity to do what very few communities have done. We can take a hard stance against militarization and turn the tide. NLPD claims to be about community policing, and while we retain deep critiques of the very concept of community policing, it’s incumbent upon them to prove it.

#scrapthecougar

Phone Zap:

General Non Emergency NLPD Line: (860) 447-5269

Officer Ryan Soccio
Crime Prevention Officer / Community Affairs / Traffic Officer / Fleet Manager
Phone: (860) 440-6673

Thank you,

NLMAC

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New London Mutual Aid Collective

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