Wisconsin Town Sends In The BearCat Tank To Collect Civil Fine From Seventy-Year-Old

from the tanks-for-nothing dept

So, hey, let’s say you’re an old guy in a tiny town in central Wisconsin. Old, like, seventy-five, let’s say, and the tiny town is farm country where you have a twenty-acre plot of good old American heartland. Now, let’s say that the municipality hasn’t appreciated the fact that you’ve kept your tractors out on the land you own and even went so far as to get a judge to level thousands of dollars of fines on you for not putting your toys away, because that’s apparently a thing that can happen. Now let’s say you’ve been ignoring these civil fines for some time. Under those conditions, would you expect this to show up on your lawn?

Could you repeat that? I couldn’t hear your answer over the sound of you crapping your pants…

Yes, along with a couple dozen SWAT officers, 75-year-old Roger Hoeppner had his property assaulted by a BearCat armored vehicle for the crime of not keeping things as tidy as the local government would like and refusing to pay the fines they levied.

Marathon County sheriff’s captain Greg Bean declined to answer multiple requests for comment, but told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that the large police presence was called in because law enforcement officials expected they would have to seize large equipment.

See, this is our fault. I don’t think any of us realized that SWAT teams moonlight as large-format moving companies. I always thought they were for things involving tactics more complicated than the tactics of getting a tractor onto the hitch of a Mack truck. But, hey, what do I know? I’m sure Mr. Bean isn’t prone to saying super ridiculous stuff or anything. So how about that BearCat?

“I’ve been involved in about five standoff situations where, as soon as the MARV showed up, the person gives up,” Bean told the Journal Sentinel.

I don’t think the fact that the BearCat makes your job super easy to do is the proper justification for its deployment. If it was, why bother with the BearCat? Why not just bring the perp’s mother to the scene and threaten to put a bullet through her head if perp doesn’t give up immediately. Sure, it would be wholly unethical and inappropriate, but I bet Bean could still use the quote above, so all’s good, yes?

This is yet another obvious and gross misuse of tactical and/or military-grade equipment in a haphazard way. Hoeppner owes Stettin, his city of 2500 residents, $80,000 in fines for not keeping his property as clean as the city would like. In other words, he left his tractors out. As a result, he faced down a BearCat and a SWAT team, which then escorted him to the bank where he paid his fines and was escorted back out by SWAT. All of this because the authorities couldn’t be bothered to come up with a creative way to get Hoeppner out of his house.

“I just don’t understand why a dollar and a half of postage on an envelope that I would have had to pick up at the Wausau post office wouldn’t have done the same thing as 24 officers and an armored vehicle,” Hoeppner told the Guardian. “The United States is not supposed to terrorize its hardworking people.”

Good one, sir.

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Comments on “Wisconsin Town Sends In The BearCat Tank To Collect Civil Fine From Seventy-Year-Old”

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Anonymous Coward says:

how many times has it been said that the terrorists won as soon as the security forces were able to do this sort of thing? these police officers should be totally ashamed of themselves for the action they took, just as the council should be ashamed of creating an issue and allowing/making it to escalate like it did, and have such ridiculous amounts of money connected to such a minor annoyance!


Bengie says:


To be fair, the farmer did threaten, many times, to cause harm to anyone who showed up.

And it wasn’t just a tractor, there was several pieces of farm equipment and between “5,000 and 8,000” pallets. Because this was seizure, they couldn’t use civilians, but it had to be officers of the law. Due to the scale of the amount of trash on this guy’s lawn, the small town had no other option than to use the SWAT team because that was most of their man power.

They did make use of civilian services to handle towing and stuff, but the deciding of what to take and execution of the judge’s orders had to be carried out by officers.

Mind you, they were going to write off the years and years of fines by liquidating the stuff that was causing the problem in the first place.

chad holbroo (profile) says:

Re: hmmm

He showed up at a city meeting with a .357 and said, “Let’s talk”. He clearly showed that he was willing to threaten the lives anyone that was involved. I’m usually the first one to point out over-reaction. However, it seems to me that the show was to make the old guy consider his own safety. It doesn’t seem to me that they intended on escalating this but to control and protect the situation.

I would rather they didn’t have these toys. Could they have, I don’t know, watched the house for him to leave and nab him? Is there a LOT of things they could have done instead of this. No doubt. It does seem like overkill and lazy police work.

AJ says:

Re: hmmm

“Because this was seizure, they couldn’t use civilians, but it had to be officers of the law.”

All dressed in swat gear and driving a tank…

“To be fair, the farmer did threaten, many times, to cause harm to anyone who showed up.”

After reading several stories, even the police said he wasn’t dangerous.. Sheriff’s Capt. Greg Bean said during an interview that while Hoeppner was never considered dangerous, he was known to be argumentative.

So for argumentative you get a tank, what happens if you actually resist? Tactical nuke?

Why can’t i seem to find where he was threatening people? There was alleged threats, but the charges were dropped. This whole thing wreaks of intimidation and state overreach on an old retired man that worked his whole life for his retirement.. that has now been seized.

DigDug says:

Re: hmmm

The town had no right to interfere on a farm, too bad if they felt it looked bad.

So in this case, everyone in the town / county are criminals, including the judge.

Let’s send in the feds to arrest those corrupt criminals.

When the farmer sues the city / county, he’ll be getting all brand new farm equipment for the ones illegally stolen from his property, as well as permanent restraining orders for the local/county police, administrators, mayor, etc, barring all of those ass-clowns from ever getting within 10 miles of his place ever again.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: hmmm

“Due to the scale of the amount of trash on this guy’s lawn, the small town had no other option than to use the SWAT team because that was most of their man power.”

I’m sorry, this argument is just ridiculous. Just off the top of my head, I can think of a better way to handle it.

Send in a couple of cops to detain the guy. Have a cop or two on hand along with a moving company who has been deputized (if necessary) to remove the equipment. You know, like cops use to do before they decided that they were a military unit.

No SWAT team or military equipment was necessary, let alone there being “no other option”.

DigDug says:

Re: Re:

Unfortunately, many cops are bullies, so of course they show up in their biggest and baddest vehicles, with their heaviest weapons for their “Shock-and-Awe” terror campaigns. This especially holds true when they know they are breaking the law and stealing equipment, criminally trespassing, which they were.

Just wish the farmer had had Iron-Man style defensive equipment to pound their “Car” into scrap metal.

Would have served them right.

Anon E. Mous (profile) says:

Wow. Remind me when I get to retirement age to head no where near this place. I’m sorry but your telling me they saw a 75 year old man as a threat that they needed SWAT? Year right.

Or is this a case of the old fella just wasn’t going to put up with this Marathon Count officials telling him how he should keep his tractors on HIS property in the damn country?

Was this bothering people on a scenic drive through the country that his tractor was out? Did it look out of place to have a tractor on the farm? I mean c’mon now.

Or is this a case of somebody with nothing better to do hassling some senior over a tractor being out and the fact they didn’t like that the senior wasn’t going to put up with something he thought was a bunch of nonsense

Your telling me that because he hadn’t paid these escalating fines, they need to send SWAT to kidnap this guy and take him to a bank and coerce him to pay his fines?

Like there wasn’t other ways to collect than with SWAT doing debt collection? I would love to see the e-mails of who thought SWAT was needed, because you can bet someone started this and demanded SWAT be involved to scare the old guy into paying.

Let’s hope the ACLU takes up this old guys cause here, because this is blatantly an abuse of power and resources.
I guess they just couldn’t lien his property or add it to his taxes? Nope no other remedies but kidnapping the old guy and taking him to the bank

I am amazed at this. The guy is 75!!!! What were they afraid he was going to make a run for it out the back door with his cat under his arm?

There ought to be some heads roll over this, cause you can’t tell me there were no other remedies available to collect these fines other than SWAT

Bengie says:

Re: Re:

” I’m sorry but your telling me they saw a 75 year old man as a threat that they needed SWAT? Year right.”

They needed a SWAT teams because the town of 2,000 people didn’t have 24 sheriffs employed. They needed a lot of officers of the law to execute the seizure of the thousands items scattered on his lawn.

The law needed help, and they got help. The SWAT always uses this vehicle. It was not a show of force but a result of an extraordinarily messy lawn with tractors that have been sitting for years. I couldn’t only imagine the state they were in.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Perhaps, given his age, and offer to help him tidy up his place, rather than fines and the a show of force, would maybe have gone down better. However to do that requires someone with empathy, and these are rare in all levels of government, while the authoritarian do as I say or else type are rather common.

Anonymous Coward says:

Probably an overreacion caused by Bundy

Probably this is a case of the cops deciding to come in armed from fear of the farmer repeating what the nut job Bundy did, where he got a bunch of people with loaded guns to sit on his property and chase feds away after Bundy refused to pay his grazing fees to the government for over 18 years.

Anon E. Mous (profile) says:

I wonder what they do to 8 yr olds who skateboard on the sidewalk in this town. I gather they call in the National Guard.

And heaven forbid those pesky Girl Guides should bother anyone with trying to sell cookies at someones door in town, that would probably end up with snipers and sharp shooters being deployed to quell that para military organization that was threatening the town with baked goods.

All that was missing was the joint press conference from the Sheriff Bean and the Mayor was how this was a terrorism operation that threatened the highway landscape sight lines.

Gwiz (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

They just send your debt to a collection agency and call it a a day.

In my state, unpaid municipal bills (water bills, fees incurred if the city has to mow your property, etc.) are added to the property taxes. If the property taxes go unpaid then that results in a lien on the property and then eventually foreclosure.

The only time law enforcement is involved is when the property is actually foreclosed on and the occupants have to be physically removed from the property. By that time the property owner has already had ample opportunities to resolve the issue.

mcinsand (profile) says:

please, don't let the city of Asheville find out about this!

When I lived in Asheville, the city was getting very aggressive about not letting people keep ‘toys’ in their yard that the powers that be found unattractive. I’m sure that they would love to have an armored vehicle to help with forced taste imposition. The federal building was exempt, however, in that they were okay to have a rusting hulk of scrap metal in front of their building (https://foursquare.com/v/asheville-federal-building/4bb7b763314e9521f395479d?openPhotoId=514ddd48e4b022f3416addd9). And, no, don’t tell me that one is art and one is not. Even when up on blocks, an AMC Pacer has more artistic value and expression than the (expensive) rusty steel in front of the fed building.

Anonymous Coward says:

This is the reason the rest of the world sees your country as a bunch of bullies, you bully the rest of the world to do what you want by throwing your armed forses around, and you use your police ( military 2 ) to bully your citizens. if The USA is not a War Mongering country I would like to see what one is. Time for a True revolution ( you know where you go and actually fight the government, not just go and sit around and call it a revolution as you ask for them to quit this )

toyotabedzrock (profile) says:

You are misrepresenting the nature of the fine. He was doing restoration of tractors so there was an unsightly mess of leaking rusting crap in his yard.

The police response was overkill and the lie about the reasons for the fine is disappointments, and you do this very frequently. It is as if you are unable to see any reason you cannot do whatever you want except killing and raping.

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