Letter to the editor: No, local law enforcement don’t need a BearCat

A Lenco BearCat utilized by the Ottawa Police Service. — Matti Blume

By Gerene Denning

I read the community response regarding the Johnson County Board of Supervisors meeting where the purchase of a BearCat was discussed. As a retired injury and violence prevention public health researcher, I strongly agree that the comments by BOS members were inappropriate and badly misinformed. Psychologically, the false meme that “law enforcement is in danger every minute of every day” that is part of training that militarizes the police is extremely dangerous. It has the potential to create a level of anxiety and distrust between officers and others that can easily result in escalation of fear and violence. We know that while not always explicitly stated, it is inferred that certain communities are a greater threat, including communities of color and persons in mental health crisis. Again, this is a FALSE and very dangerous belief that promotes systemic bias, discrimination and police violence against the innocent.

Here is the truth. A little over 100 law enforcement officers’ lives are lost to violence each year in America. While every death is tragic, this clearly demonstrates that, fortunately, the threat of lethal violence is actually quite low. In fact, 27 other professions have a higher occupational death rate than law enforcement and the major cause of law enforcement deaths is car crashes. The perpetuators who kill these officers are violent felons or extremists, they are heavily armed, and 53 percent are White. These characteristics are very different from what law enforcement officers are often led to believe about who and what constitutes a threat, including the race of the perpetrator. The best way to protect law enforcement (and the community) is through gun safety legislation.

A BearCat could be a valuable purchase should Johnson County ever become an active war zone or destroyed by a catastrophic climate event. Until that time, it is not only a misuse of funds that could go toward efforts to more effectively increase community safety, it could also create or exacerbate distrust between law enforcement and local communities.

Thoughts? Tips? A cute picture of a dog? Share them with LV »


Iowa City Book Festival

Oct. 18-24

A celebration of books, writing and ideas

Find Out More


Summer Programs 2020

Get 150+ local restaurants delivered to your door in the Iowa City & Cedar Rapids areas!

The Future is Unwritten

You look to Little Village for today’s stories. Your sustaining support will help us write tomorrow’s.


$10/mo or $120/year
The cost of doing this work really adds up! Your contribution at this level will cover telephone and internet expenses for one month at the LV editorial offices.


$20/mo or $240/year
$240 is enough to cover one month’s costs for sending out our weekly entertainment newsletter, The Weekender. Make a contribution at this level to put a little more oomph on your support and your weekend.


$30/mo or $360/year
(AUTO-RENEW) connects eastern Iowa culture with the world. Your contribution at this level will cover the site’s hosting costs for three months. A bold move for our boldest supporters!

All monthly and annual contributors receive:

  • Recognition on our Supporters page (aliases welcome)
  • Exclusive early access when we release new half-price gift cards
  • Access to a secret Facebook group where you can connect with other supporters and discuss the latest news and upcoming events (and maybe swap pet pics?) with the LV staff
  • Invitations to periodic publisher chats (held virtually for now) to meet with Matt and give him a piece of your mind, ask your burning questions and hear more about the future plans for Little Village, Bread & Butter Magazine, Witching Hour Festival and our other endeavors.