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Proper equipment is vital to keep police department strong: Editorial

Posted 2/21/18

When police investigate crimes, they aren’t solved in tidy one-hour chunks as often seen on television.

Police work can be tedious, drawn-out, labor intensive and boring. It involves …

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Proper equipment is vital to keep police department strong: Editorial

Posted

When police investigate crimes, they aren’t solved in tidy one-hour chunks as often seen on television.

Police work can be tedious, drawn-out, labor intensive and boring. It involves paperwork and legwork. But much of those details don’t translate into good TV.

And while police officers carry sidearms, they are much more likely to use a pen or pencil to write down notes about a case, or a computer to work online than they ever are to draw that sidearm.

Even something as basic as transportation for police is something most residents don’t think about.

In Middletown, as in many departments, police cruisers get little rest. They are shuffled from shift to shift to shift, on the road almost every hour of every day. Sometimes they are not running at all. Sometimes they are sitting and idling for extended periods. Sometimes they are driven at high speeds. But they are almost always in use. Imagine the wear and tear on your vehicle if you had it on 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The Middletown Borough Council voted Feb. 6 to purchase three new SUVs, 16 new laptop computers, and a new camera system for the police station and for police vehicles.

The vote was 4-3, with opposition mostly over how to finance the $271,938.03 expenditure and the number of SUVs that should be bought.

The department’s vehicle fleet is breaking down due to overuse, Vice President Dawn Knull said.

The purchases are part of an ongoing department rebuilding that needs to continue, Police Chief George Mouchette said. The new computers are to replace eight- or nine-year old computers that are making it “impossible” for officers to do their job.

These latest purchases continue an ongoing effort in recent months to upgrade police equipment. Council last year approved buying new Sig Sauer P320-model .45 caliber handguns to replace the Glock .40 caliber sidearms that the department said were worn out. Last year, more than $17,000 was spent on nine AR-15 short-barrel rifles with rear flip sights and suppressors. Every department vehicle was to be equipped with a new rifle.

“The last council basically decimated the police department,” Mouchette said. “What this council has realized is that when you give money to the police department it’s really an investment into yourself. Some people might think, ‘Yeah, the cops are gonna get new computers,’ but it helps the cops do their job so they can help the community.”

Imagine using a computer that is almost a decade old, especially when many of today’s crimes involve computer scams.

With police regionalization talks dead, a new police chief in place and a leadership structure planned under the chief, replacing equipment is crucial to keep the foundation strong .

What’s next? The package approved Feb. 6 does not include body cameras, but the new camera system will be compatible with body cameras, Mouchette told us.

The department also planned to come before council Feb. 20 to talk about the radio system.

Council must perform its due diligence as responsible fiscal managers for taxpayers and looking at expenditures to make sure they are necessary and make sense financially. But giving the police the proper tools to do their job is one of the most important things the Middletown Borough Council can do.