2016-08-18 / Front Page

Middletown OKs Police Purchases

By Olga Enger

The Town of Middletown is upgrading its inventory.

Town Councilors approved several purchases at their Aug. 15 meeting to replace police cars, handguns and message boards, along with a new car for the town engineer.

The Police Department requested the bulk of the procurements approved at Monday’s meeting: switching out four cars in the fleet, trading in 60 Sig Sauer handguns, and buying four new electronic message boards. The Department of Public Works got the go-ahead to purchase a new town engineer car for $29,432.

The four police cars, which are two marked cruisers and two detective vehicles, will cost taxpayers around $175,148. The purchases were previously approved as part of the 2017 fiscal year budget.

“The rescue wagon fund is a special revenue fund which is used to account for all of the proceeds from the operations of the rescue wagon program. The town is appropriating money from the rescue wagon fund into the general fund to purchase the police vehicles,” Town Administrator Shawn Brown said before the meeting.

Police Chief Anthony Pesare, who served as acting town administrator during the council meeting in Brown’s absence, said the cars may take six to nine months to arrive once purchased.

“That’s a problem for us because we don’t buy that many cars,” Pesare said. Cars that were approved last year will not arrive until this November, the chief said. The vehicles are purchased under a bid made for Plymouth County, Mass., and are subject to set prices and guidelines.

“The fleet management policy states that if a car reaches 10 years old or has 130,00 miles on it, it is no longer deemed safe for an emergency response vehicle,” Lt. Jason Ryan told Newport This Week. “That is the case with four vehicles that need to be replaced. Two of the vehicles in the detective division have aged out at 2006 and two marked units have exceeded the mileage.”

Once the vehicles are purchased, they require emergency lights, sirens and two-way radio communications, which are included in the bid price.

The town also approved the replacement of four variable message boards for $28,280. Although the boards were purchased in 2011 and 2012, bulbs have burned out and new panels cost $640 each, police said. The newer signs include remote programming and scheduling capability, which allows officers to change message boards from a computer or mobile app.

“I hope the message boards do not have to be replaced every four years, but as you drive around town, you will notice that they are in constant use throughout the year,” said Ryan, when asked if the new boards would require a similar replacement schedule. “We use three to four at the beach during the summer and the rest of the year they are used for road construction, neighborhood surveys, traffic calming, road races, voting stations, or general town announcements. As they get older and more bulbs go out, it is not cost effective to repair these.”

Additionally, the department plans to buy a StateTrack data collector to perform traffic studies, which will replace the rubber data collection tubes that run across the road. The new system can be used in all seasons to track traffic patterns such as average speeds and busiest times of day.

Council also approved the replacement of 60 Sig Sauer P2OST handguns for the department. During range practice and qualifications, officers have experienced malfunctions and jams while using the guns, which are 13 years old, police said.

To fix the guns and extend their life would cost up to $200 per gun to replace the extractors and springs, said police. While the price of a new Sig Sauer P220 is $645 per weapon, the company has offered to trade in the existing guns for $425. After the trade-in, each gun would cost the town $220, for a total price of $13,029. The department said the guns should last about a decade.

With a department of 40 sworn officers and 10 non-permit officers, the purchase will provide for a one-to-one gun ratio with weapons to spare, said Pesare.

“I would like to remind everybody, even though sometimes I disagree with making purchases, these have already been approved. They are part of [this year’s] fiscal budget,” said Councilor Paul Rodrigues.

All motions were passed by a 7-0 vote.

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