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.

Filed Under: bearcat, fine, greg bean, marathon county, mrap, roger hoeppner, swat, wisconsin


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  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 31 Oct 2014 @ 2:50am

    “The United States is not supposed to terrorize its hardworking people."

    So when will the letter-soup agencies storm that local SWAT team and those who sent them for terrorism? Oh, it's not terrorism when the Government does it. Got it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Berenerd (profile), 31 Oct 2014 @ 4:26am

    S.W.A.T. apparently means Repo men...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Oct 2014 @ 4:39am

    The United States is not supposed to terrorize its hardworking people.
    He's obviously not a student of history

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Awesome, 31 Oct 2014 @ 4:42am

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Oct 2014 @ 4:43am

    Next thing you know they will be telling him what what color to paint things, and what to plant and where, and where to park the animals, so that they get the pretty scenery that they expect.


    /sarc (For the totalitarians who think the proposal is reasonable.)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Oct 2014 @ 4:52am

    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!

    PAY THE FUCKING MONEY BACK!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Bengie, 31 Oct 2014 @ 5:04am

    hmmm

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 31 Oct 2014 @ 5:17am

      Re: hmmm

      To be fair ... they did not show up at the Cliven Bundy ranch in a friggin tank.

      But that was the fed, not local authorities. So, the fed is not as crazy as local cops.

      Mind you, they have sort of just given up collecting the millions owed by Bundy, I'll bet other ranchers think he is an ass also.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      chad holbroo, 31 Oct 2014 @ 5:33am

      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.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 31 Oct 2014 @ 5:43am

        Re: Re: hmmm

        Was the .357 actually drawn when he said "let's talk"? Did he have a license to carry?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 31 Oct 2014 @ 7:33am

          Re: Re: Re: hmmm

          2nd does not require a license. If support guns laws without modifying the constitution then you have no standing to complain when any of your other rights are taken away.

          But you are spot on with the question, was it drawn and I would further ask did he threaten to use it?

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Michael, 31 Oct 2014 @ 6:06am

        Re: Re: hmmm

        I would guess that the media does not understand the context. I used to live in a town slightly smaller than this and nearly everyone at the town council meetings was carrying a sidearm. People just wore them all the time.

        There really are still towns like that in rural areas of the US.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 31 Oct 2014 @ 5:38am

      Re: hmmm

      Yeah, "the stuff that was causing the problem in the first place" was the fact that the city thought it was entitled to this man's cash. There is nothing "fair" about that.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      AJ, 31 Oct 2014 @ 5:54am

      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.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Michael, 31 Oct 2014 @ 6:01am

      Re: hmmm

      the small town had no other option than to use the SWAT team because that was most of their man power

      I think we would have to question why a small town in WI has most of it's man power tied up in SWAT.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      DigDug, 31 Oct 2014 @ 6:28am

      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.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      John Fenderson (profile), 31 Oct 2014 @ 7:56am

      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".

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Michael, 31 Oct 2014 @ 8:35am

        Re: Re: hmmm

        Feel free to use the SWAT officers - just put them in their regular non-militarized uniforms or civilian clothing.

        Having an AR-15 hanging on your back does not make moving heavy equipment any easier.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Oct 2014 @ 5:05am

    Cops don't show up on your lawn, in an MRAP, without being scared both pissless and shitless by you in the first place. That's how I choose to look at it.

    These officers are complete and utter pansies.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      DigDug, 31 Oct 2014 @ 6:31am

      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.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      John Fenderson (profile), 31 Oct 2014 @ 7:57am

      Re:

      I think there is more than a little truth to this, particularly since the usual excuse for using military equipment and tactics is "officer safety".

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Anon E. Mous (profile), 31 Oct 2014 @ 5:14am

    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

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Bengie, 31 Oct 2014 @ 5:27am

      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.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 31 Oct 2014 @ 5:45am

        Re: Re:

        It was a show of force, and you fucking know it.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          AJ, 31 Oct 2014 @ 5:59am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Damn right it was. They had a tank, road blocks, cops dressed in swat gear. The showed up unannounced and scared his wife so bad she had to go to the hospital. I'm sure he was an ornery old man, but this was over the friggin top.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 31 Oct 2014 @ 5:54am

        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.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Michael, 31 Oct 2014 @ 6:02am

        Re: Re:

        In a town of 2000, you do not have much of a need for a SWAT team.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 31 Oct 2014 @ 7:46am

        Re: Re:

        So SWAT goes through the drive-through in this vehicle when someone goes to grab lunch?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        John Fenderson (profile), 31 Oct 2014 @ 7:59am

        Re: Re:

        "They needed a lot of officers of the law to execute the seizure of the *thousands* items scattered on his lawn."

        Bullshit. They needed one cop and to hire the services of a moving company.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        lemrechaun, 31 Oct 2014 @ 9:06am

        Re: Re:

        The Constitution trumps the law you are referring to. His property, his land, his rights. Regardless of the tractors condition or state, MYOB.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Oct 2014 @ 5:21am

    One riot: one ranger

    One 75-year-old guy: a whole crowd of pussies, cowards, losers, whiners, and weaklings in a tank.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Oct 2014 @ 6:00am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Benjamin Wade, 31 Oct 2014 @ 6:00am

    Playing the race card - but also being honest

    If he'd been black they'd have come in with guns blazing.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 31 Oct 2014 @ 10:16am

      Re: Playing the race card - but also being honest

      Piling on: Eric Frein, who is accused of killing a cop, was captured alive last night and is now being arraigned. Mike Brown, who is accused of jaywalking, was executed without benefit of due process.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Anon E. Mous (profile), 31 Oct 2014 @ 6:10am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Oct 2014 @ 6:26am

    The big question is: why didn't they go for his bank account first? They serve a court order on the bank and the bank freezes his account and gives the appropriate amount of money to the town. Isn't that route preferable to going in with dozens of SWAT officers?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      John Fenderson (profile), 31 Oct 2014 @ 8:01am

      Re:

      I was wondering this as well. If you don't pay your parking tickets in my part of the country, no cop visits you at all. They just send your debt to a collection agency and call it a a day. I don't see why this could be any different.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Gwiz (profile), 31 Oct 2014 @ 9:10am

        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.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    BentFranklin (profile), 31 Oct 2014 @ 7:09am

    Not sure I like the Cracked-style comedy caption.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anon, 31 Oct 2014 @ 7:39am

    America?

    I'm concerned that in a town of 2500 the police have been involved in 5 stand-offs. I don't think there's more than a few a year in a urban area of 4 million in Canada. Maybe it's the way the authorities approach these situation, ya think?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 31 Oct 2014 @ 7:49am

      Re: America?

      To be fair, they didn't say what a stand-off meant to them. Their definition could include a noise complain where someone didn't want to open the door.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    mcinsand, 31 Oct 2014 @ 8:07am

    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=514ddd48e4 b022f3416addd9). 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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Oct 2014 @ 8:09am

    shock and awe, or in new age terms:

    intimidate and brutalize

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Deakon, 31 Oct 2014 @ 8:31am

    Real reason

    The only reason the city keeps adding fines I would guess is they want his property for some city project but could not figure anyother way to get it from him.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Oct 2014 @ 8:46am

    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 )

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Oct 2014 @ 9:16am

    Terrorism is alive and well inside the US

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    me, 31 Oct 2014 @ 9:28am

    we have met the terrorists

    They worked for the municipality.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Oct 2014 @ 9:57am

    Someone in power locally wants this guys land really bad.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    toyotabedzrock (profile), 31 Oct 2014 @ 11:12am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      John Fenderson (profile), 31 Oct 2014 @ 12:26pm

      Re:

      While I disagree that the article fundamentally misrepresented this, even if it did -- what difference would it make? The exact nature of the unsightly mess is meaningless in terms of what the article is about.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Oct 2014 @ 1:04pm

    Sounds like Andy went into Raleigh and left Barney in charge. Makes you long for the good old days when our neighbors pitched in and helped each other out, instead of relying on a Judges order and the S.W.A.T. Team. The guy could have built one hell of a privacy fence for 80 grand.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Zonker, 31 Oct 2014 @ 1:07pm

    If $80,000 is the fine for parking tractors and pallets on your property, I wonder how much the fine should be for parking a BearCat on the property?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Anon E. Mous (profile), 31 Oct 2014 @ 6:19pm

      Re: There's a follow up...

      Nice find. Looks like there is some ass covering has started taking place once Mr.Hoeppner's lawyer started asking some questions.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Coyne Tibbets (profile), 31 Oct 2014 @ 1:46pm

    Overkill?

    Hey, cop guys: I have an annoying fly buzzing around my kitchen. Would you send over that SWAT wagon?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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