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Weston Police Want Two 4-Wheel Drive Vehicles

WESTON, Conn. – A year of heavy snowstorms and hurricanes has persuaded Weston Police Chief John Troxell to request two new four-wheel drive vehicles for the department's fleet.

“With the last two storms that we had, we found that we didn’t have the means to get around town and to do our work safely,” Troxell said.

The current fleet was no match for the unsafe road conditions created by Tropical Storm Irene and the Oct. 29 snowstorm . The roads were either covered in ice or riddled with debris, leaving the department no choice but to borrow four-wheel-drive vehicles from the Board of Education , Troxell said.

Troxell said the department needed the loaners “just to get our officers and our equipment around town.”

“During those two storms, those vehicles really played an important role in our patrol,” he said. So this year, the department is requesting two new vehicles in its 2012-2013 budget.

The proposed budget requests $44,017 for a 2012 4WD Chevrolet Tahoe and $39,282 for a 2012 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Quad Cab Pickup. The $83,299 total includes the installation of police radios, sirens, lights and a rear-seat prisoner cage in the Tahoe, according to the budget. The extras would be installed by Fleet Auto Services in West Haven.

Even with the purchase of the two vehicles, the budget is only 0.6 percent larger than this year's. That's $1,676,969 for 2011-2012 compared with $1,692,437 for 2012-2013, an increase of $15,468.

“Ninety percent of our budget is driven by salaries and overtime,” Troxell said. Police salaries, he said, stem from a contractual agreement between the police union and the town that mandates each officer in Weston get a 2 percent increase in 2012.

When asked how confident he was that the department will see two new vehicles, Troxell said, “Let me just say that I am confident with our budget when you look at it line by line. The only issue is going to be our capital request with the two new vehicles.”

“I can justify the need for these cars, but given the poor economy, I do not know if anyone during the budget process will agree with me,” he said.

Town department heads have been meeting with First Selectman Gayle Weinstein to discuss their proposed budgets, but the sessions have been behind closed doors. Weinstein is scheduled to present a town budget to the Board of Selectman and the public for review on Feb. 13.

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