Police get water safety grant

Published 9:53 pm Thursday, September 24, 2009

Suffolk’s waterways will be safer next spring, thanks to a grant Suffolk police have received from federal stimulus funds.

Officials announced during the City Council retreat Thursday that the city has received $386,450 through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act Port Security Grant Program to purchase a new police boat, dive support truck, boat motor and other marine and dive team equipment.

“This grant is going to enable us to buy state of the art equipment that will allow us to patrol anywhere within our jurisdiction or elsewhere, in any type of weather,” Suffolk Police Chief Thomas Bennett said. “With the boat we have now, we have to be fairly particular about the conditions we operate in.”

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The new equipment will support water safety not only in Suffolk, but also in neighboring localities with which Suffolk has mutual aid agreements.

The department currently has two boats, Bennett said. One vessel was donated to the police department, but is ill suited for police work on the city’s waterways because it is small, Bennett said. The other boat is larger, but needs a new motor, which also will be purchased with the grant.

The new boat will be about 29 feet long, and is made especially for police work, Bennett said.

“The boat we had before was a fishing boat that we converted as best we could for our use, but this boat is specifically designed for law enforcement,” Bennett said. “It comes from the factory just about ready except for things we have to customize, like radios.”

Money from the grant also will buy various pieces of equipment needed by the dive team.

Bennett added the police department will place their orders in the coming weeks, and the boat should be delivered by the time boating season starts again in the spring.