WESTON, Conn. Winter will be no match for the Weston Police Department if Chief John Troxell is allowed to keep two surplus U.S. military vehicles received last week.
The 1992 and 1994 Hummers were picked up by the department under an agreement with the U.S. Law Enforcement Support Office , which leases used military vehicles to police agencies. The move has angered First Selectman Gayle Weinstein.
Weinstein said Tuesday she was not pleased with the police department's actions and questions why she was kept out of the loop. I should have been informed at the very least, she said.
Weinstein said she has been looking into ways the town can "really cut down on the number of vehicles the town has" and that she would prefer to see shared uses of town vehicles as a measure of cutting costs.
Although the federal program uses the word lease, Troxell said there is no cost to the town. He said the police department will have the vehicles for 10 years or more if we want them. Once they are no longer needed, he said, the town must turn them over to a military base in Groton. If any spare parts are needed, he said, they will come from the U.S. Law Enforcement Support Office at no cost to the town.
The Hummers will help, Troxell said, because a request for two new off-road vehicles was cut from the department's budget request. We were looking for alternative means to get another vehicle and we found out about this program. I feel that the Hummer would be a good choice if we could get it at zero cost to the town, which we did, Troxell said.
The vehicles will be used in bad weather to safely move officers and their gear, according to Troxell. He also hopes to share the trucks with the Weston Fire Department and EMS during search and rescue situations in wooded areas.
The only cost for the Hummers to date, Troxell said, was the $300 in gas used to transport the vehicles from Fort Drum, N.Y., to Weston. Although the trucks currently sport camouflage colors, Troxell said they will be painted black by Georgetown Auto, outfitted for radios by Marcus Communications and have lights and sirens installed by Fleet Auto Supply, all for free.
Troxell said acquisition of the vehicles was approved by the Police Commission last week but that the matter will be up for debate at the next Board of Selectman meeting. Troxell said he wasnt sure if they needed to be approved by the selectman, but added, I am really pushing that we can keep the two trucks. We are really trying to think of creative ways to take the burden off the taxpayers when it comes to our budget, and this is just an extension of that.
When asked what to expect during this weeks selectmen meeting, Weinstein said: I am not happy that this took place without my knowledge and I was uncomfortable enough with the process by which these acquisitions took place to discuss it at our next selectmen meeting.
The next Board of Selectmen meeting is set for Thursday at 7:30 p.m. at Town Hall.
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