CHESTER – The police department is looking to include the routine purchase of a new cruiser in the budget this year, rather than sending it to warrant article.
Police chief Bill Burke met with the board of selectmen on Thursday, Jan. 30, to review his budget numbers and with only a small increase to the current year’s bottom line, the cruiser was at the top of the list for discussion.
Burke and selectman Jack Cannon spoke in favor of including the vehicle in the budget, noting that for years the warrant article to purchase a vehicle has been easily approved at town meeting, often with no discussion.
Burke said he sees cruisers as an operating expense, no different than uniforms, guns or vests.
“In my 20 years here, we’ve never had an issue with the public believing that the police department needs a cruiser,” said Burke.
Cannon said it made sense not to burden the warrant with an article that passes easily every year. “Warrant articles should be for important things that need discussion. I don’t think a police cruiser needs discussion,” said Cannon.
There was an extended discussion about the department’s current fleet and how the vehicles are rotated through service. Noting the pattern, Cannon and Burke said that in the future they’d be looking at funding a cruiser every year to keep quality vehicles on the roads.
Chair Steph Landau said he didn’t have a problem with putting a cruiser in the budget.
The estimated cost for a new cruiser fully equipped is $42,000.
The budget presented by Burke at $490,752 shows a 1.49 percent increase over the current year’s figure. The selectmen have been discussing taking all of the Information Technology lines out of department budgets to create a separate budget. This process would include upgrading computers throughout town. If that decision is made, the police department’s budget would decrease by $9,300, with that sum placed elsewhere.
Burke is looking to boost the gun replacement line to $1,000 to upgrade old firearms. He explained that some of the officers have Generation One Glock brand handguns, though the newest versions are Generation Four. Some of the guns carried by officers are 15 years old, the chief said. The newer versions would cost about $300, and Burke is looking to buy three a year until his department is upgraded. He said the newer guns are safer and are more useful for police work.
Though many think the guns stay in their holsters, said Burke, they are routinely fired for practice and qualifications.