Lewiston police unveil armored vehicle at Night Out

Amber Waterman/Sun Journal

"I think it's pretty cool," said Trey Goyette, 9, of Lewiston (with the Mohawk), after exploring the Lewiston Police Department's new tank at National Night Out in Marcotte Park on Tuesday.

Amber Waterman/Sun Journal

Mariah Hutchins, 3, of Auburn, squeals with laughter as she runs under a parachute during the National Night Out celebration in Marcotte Park in Lewiston on Tuesday. "It's her favorite part," said her mother, Heather Blair.

LEWISTON — People flocked to Marcotte Park on Tuesday for National Night Out as the Police Department showed of its newest additions: a robot and an armored personnel carrier.

Amber Waterman/Sun Journal

Emma Pettengill, 3, watches her mother Abbie help her make a bracelet at the National Night Out Celebration Tuesday in Lewiston's Marcotte Park.

National Night Out is held each August to support crime and drug prevention and to provide a fun atmosphere for local law enforcement and other first responders to connect with their community.

A DJ played music as Walmart supplied grilled hot dogs and chips to residents who mingled among the tables and displays. Kids played games, participated in arts and crafts and played in the bounce house and inflatable obstacle course.

Mr. Drew and His Animals Too entertained crowds with a giant boa constrictor, rabbits, tortoises and a dancing cockatoo.

Children clambered in and out of ambulances as well as the Lewiston Police Department Critical Incident Response Unit, a mobile command center full of computers and other devices.

Oh, and there was a tank.

Well, a 1981 M113APC, to be exact. But with a brutish exterior complete with asphalt-friendly tracks and sporting new LPD decals and paint, it's not your ordinary cruiser.

Nearby, Sgt. Michael Whalen operated another new arrival, the MARCbot IV, or Multi-Functional Agile Remote Controlled Robot, fresh from the U.S. Army and complete with an Xbox controller.

Speaking of the armored personnel carrier, or APC, Whalen said, "We just had it detailed this week." He said the department has had the robot about three months and a pair of APCs for one month. The second APC is being kept as a sort of parts car.

"It's just for rescue," Whalen assured a curious crowd. "There's no armament."

The vehicle was transferred to the LPD by Portland, which was upgrading to the more modern Bearcat model used by Maine State Police, Whalen said.

He said the day they were picking up equipment for the robot unit, John Gills of the Scarborough Police Department, who manages military equipment for Maine, told them of the Portland vehicles.

And what of the cost to taxpayers? Whalen said both vehicles and the robot were free to the LPD as a reallocation of military surplus. A month is a long time to have such a vehicle under wraps. Whalen doubted the new vehicle would make it to its first public appearance without being discovered.

"I'm surprised (the Sun Journal) didn't get any phone calls," Whalen said, with a month of storage and outdoor practice at the Public Works complex on River Road.

He said the new vehicle would be of great service in rescue and hazardous-materials situations, adding that it could have been of great use fighting a forest fire this spring along the power lines.

The COBRA insignia painted on the side of the new vehicle attests to its new mission: chemical, ordnance, biological, radiological agents.

Lewiston Chief Michael Bussiere watched as a constant stream of children climbed into the vehicle and parents snapped photos.

One mother asked if there was a way officers could take her children's pictures and send her a copy. After a brief address exchange, an officer arranged to take the pictures with a phone and send mom printed photos.

"If nothing else, the kids like it," Bussiere said. "It's a good community policing tool."

Speaking further of its role as a rescue and tactical unit, Bussiere said, "Hopefully, it's a tool we'll rarely have to use."

As crowds filtered out of the park and tables were broken down and stacked, the APC roared to life.

Inside, the ride was exhilarating if far from luxurious. Turns lurched as the engine rattled in the steel-box interior. Diesel exhaust filled the air as the tracks on the pavement caused bones and teeth to rattle.

Heads turned as the vehicle rolled through city streets with an escort. Smiles and waves from the open hatch met surprised residents as Detective James Theiss manned the controls on the way back to River Road.

dmcintire@sunjournal.com

Amber Waterman/Sun Journal

Trevor Caron, 7, of Lewiston, makes a face at a police tactical robot controlled remotely by Lewiston Police Sgt. Michael Whalen during the National Night Out celebration in Marcotte Park on Tuesday.

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Comments

Tim McClure's picture

Welcome to the Police State

Its getting so you cannot tell the difference between a soldier and the police. Are we really that dangerous?

Kim Berry's picture

DHLS

has already ordered several million hollow point rounds etc. tons of footage of armored vehicles being shipped around on trains in the US, as well as FEMA coffins. FEMA districts are already set up, there are ten for the continental US. Fusion Centers are already in operation, they will be fused with fed. and local municipalities to share info on potential te r ror threats (aka average annoying American citizen or activist, protester etc). LoL
They already passed several bills into law, and exec orders allowing tapping into your emails, photos, chats, and phone calls,texts. (all in the name of "potential *T* thread) Information is credible, and publicly available. Time to wake the hell up people. It's happening here. Do NOT take my word for it, research it yourself, but makes sure you are sitting, so you dont fall and get a concuscion or something. LoL wakey wakey!

Kim Berry's picture

welcome to the NWO

look up Agenda 21, FEMA CAMPS are already outfitted and ready to take on thousands of Americans during a "natural distaster" Google GEO ENGINEERING, HAARP etc. then go ahead and realize that Sandy, Katrina were Un natural disasters.
Either brace for it, deny it, or wake up and face it. good luck.

David Pinkham's picture

$$$

This idiocy reminds me of that bumper sticker. Join the Army. See new places. Meet interesting people. Kill them.

Except it's "come on down to Kennedy Park and see the water cannon we'll use on you when the Franco Festival gets out of hand".

Mike: It's Obama money. That means your grandchildren will be paying for this nonsense.

You're absolutely right, LPD needs more personnel, not more toys. But that's a recurring local expense that can be hidden in federal debt. Not their fault. Four years from now (when the country moves from tax and spend to save and defend) they can put this albatross down with the Jeep by the River.

Andrew: The cops already have drones. They beam information from 20 miles in either direction to the ten cars at the speed trap in Sidney, among other places.

Mike Lachance's picture

Lewiston P.D. needs more

Lewiston P.D. needs more patrol officers and cruisers. They do NOT need APC's and M16's. Did the City Council approve this? I don't care if its DHS grants that funded this, as stated by others now WE must pay for maintenance on these units. And, as also stated by others, this is LEWISTON, not Detroit (yet)... There is absolutely ZERO need for an APC in Lewiston or Auburn. None. Zip. Nada.

Another stupid idea brought to you by whom???

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Looks like the heat's getting

Looks like the heat's getting ready for a major shakedown of people who might just be minding their own business.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Looks like Lewiston residents

Looks like Lewiston residents are enjoying themselves all while the U.S. is militarizing its police forces. It is only a matter of time before they wake up and wonder how this happened.

It is happening slowly, it is happening now with lots of ice-cream and balloons.

Now that Lewiston has the toys, when and how will they use them – remember Giggles the fawn as a portal to your future!

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/aug/1/13-wisconsin-officials-ra...

Andrew Jones's picture

Damn, Mark. We had this

Damn, Mark. We had this discussion the other day about military surplus and what happens! Lewiston gets their mitts on an APC. What's next, a drone?

I can understand the Maine State Tactical Team needing an APC, but local police? Hmmm....

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Mark my word, it is just a

Mark my word, it is just a matter time before LPD tries to justify this toy. They will attempt to show the public why they need an APC.

Citizens of Lewiston, hide Giggles.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

You are correct. "Beware of

You are correct. "Beware of the eye in the sky", said the wary parrot.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

I think I'm more worried of

I think I'm more worried of the parrot flying overhead. Just don't open your mouth as you gaze up.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Not to worry. There is a

Not to worry. There is a malfunction in his digestive altimeter which renders him unable to relieve himself in flight.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

That is good to know, but I

That is good to know, but I still recommend keeping one's mouth shut when gazing upward just in case.

Noel Foss's picture

Wait....

This story says that Lewiston got their Robot and APC's about a month ago.
The Sun Journal JUST ran a story last week saying that the city had received a whopping $429 worth of surplus in the last 10 years (for some rain gear).
Surely these two APC's must have come up when the SJ Was doing their research for that story? There's no way these came in at less than $429...

Andrew Jones's picture

Sun Journal did a poor job

Sun Journal did a poor job researching for that story. They claimed that Auburn did not request or receive anything, but the APD says otherwise.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

It is a slight of hands

It is a slight of hands trick. The APC came from a Homeland Security Grant, technically not surplus.

Anyhow, now Lewiston residents have to pay to maintain these toys moving forward. I just wonder how long these toys will be operable when the city finds out it cannot afford to fix them.

Not to mention why Lewiston needs these items in the first place.

What is the justification?

It is free! Well, nothing is really free.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Good points. There are

Good points. There are reasons why Homeland Security had them parked in the first place. Every used car in every used car lot in the country is there for a reason......or two.

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