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Armored truck maker sees validation in use during manhunt but critics disagree

Armored vehicles made by Lenco Armored Vehicles of Pittsfield were used in the search for Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in Watertown last month.
Armored vehicles made by Lenco Armored Vehicles of Pittsfield were used in the search for Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in Watertown last month.Matt Rourke/Associated Press

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The steel-plated vehicles that protected police during the manhunt for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev were BearCats, the controversial SWAT trucks made by Lenco Armored Vehicles in Pittsfield that have been alternately heralded as essential safety equipment for law enforcement agencies and derided as a waste of money for increasingly militarized police departments.

Use of BearCat trucks during the search for Tsarnaev was “rewarding as a validation for us and our equipment because it meant that police trusted Lenco and the BearCat’s capabilities to defeat close-range ballistic and blast attacks,” said Len Light, Lenco’s chief executive.

But some critics remain unconvinced that the $250,000 vehicles, which are used by all four branches of the military, are necessary at the local level.

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