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$8K donation offered to outfit a new Bennington police cruiser

BENNINGTON — A Bennington resident who works for a company that outfits municipal emergency vehicles has offered the town $8,000 in equipment for a new police cruiser, which Police Chief Steve Campbell says would allow the town to purchase a 2013 Ford Interceptor with funds currently in the Police Cruiser Capital Reserve Fund.

At town elections in March, residents voted no to Article 13, which would have appropriated $15,000 to the police cruiser fund for a new cruiser that town officials said could cost up to $40,000.

When the article failed, Campbell spent time calling around to car dealerships in the area looking for deals on new cruisers. The current 2007 Ford Expedition requires multiple equipment and body repairs in order to remain on the road, but will now be traded in to help pay for the new cruiser.

Campbell came across Imperial Municipal Partners out of Milford, Mass., and was offered a good deal that the town could afford.

There is currently $25,893 in the Police Cruiser Capital Reserve Fund, and, according to minutes from the April 3 Select Board meeting, the projected cost for the new vehicle is $23,934. That includes additional expenses such as equipping the Interceptor with decals and labor for installing the equipment.

The discount doesn’t all come from the dealership, however. Nason, a representative of the St. Louis, Mo.-based Code 3 Public Safety Equipment, has offered to donate around $8,000 worth of police equipment for the new vehicle.

“I’ve known Steve since long before he was a police chief,” Nason said in a phone interview Wednesday. “I think it’s the right thing to do for the town.”

The town was scheduled to hold a public meeting Wednesday to determine if it would accept the donation from Nason. That meeting was to take place after press time.

Nason said Code 3 will provide all of the lights and sirens for the cruiser, and all other warning systems.

“I’ve known Keith for years,” Campbell said in a phone interview Tuesday. “After talking with him, he said he would donate some of his equipment to help out.”

The trade-in value for the Expedition, Campbell said, is yet to be determined. He has had a dealership offer $1,700, but has heard offers from others who may go higher — he figures somewhere in the $3,500 range.

Town Administrator Dee French said in a phone interview Tuesday that generally there is a four-year rotation in police vehicles in a town. Every four years it is recommended by the state that a new one be purchased, or repairs be made. The Expedition is going on six years with the town.

“The Expedition is a bucket of need,” French said.

To help save money, Campbell said the Police Department won’t purchase a video camera for the new vehicle. All other necessary equipment will need to be donated or purchased. The partition between the front and rear seats, for example, because the partition in the Expedition won’t fit into the newer-model Interceptor.

Campbell said another Bennington resident, Dave Foster, will be installing all of the equipment at a discounted labor price to help save money. Foster works for a company called Beltronics that specializes in installation of wireless communication devices.

“Between those two guys, we can’t thank them enough for all of their help,” Campbell said.

The important thing, Campbell noted, is that the town won’t have to raise taxes to purchase the vehicle. If the donation from Nason is accepted, Foster installs the equipment for a discounted price, and the current Ford is traded in, there should be enough money in the Capital Reserve Fund to purchase the Interceptor without costing the town anything.

Campbell said the Police Department’s equipment line-item in the town’s budget that can also be drawn from for additional expenses, if necessary.

“It comes down to finding a cruiser that is cost-effective,” French said. “We’ve got this gift [from Nason] that will really help out.”

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