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Board Of Finance Okays New Police Boat

The Boat A Sign Of Changing Times, Police Chief Said

After some tough questions and the protests of one member, the board of finance approved a new, more expensive boat for the police department Wednesday.

Police Chief Murray Pendleton recently secured a $520,000 grant from the Department of Homeland Security for a new police boat. The grant pays for the cost of the boat and the first three years of maintenance and training for the boat.

“What we are doing today is not adequate any longer to do what we need to do as a region,” Pendleton said. “This program will be the beginning of substantial changes to the old way we used to do business.”

Although Waterford will own the boat, this will be part of a regional effort, Pendleton said. New London police officers and East Lyme police officers will also use the boat to help patrol Long Island Sound and the Niantic River, Pendleton said.

The exact specifications of the boat have not been decided, although it will have infrared sensors, be specifically designed so that it is easy to board other boats and have the capability to hold a dive team, Pendleton said. At an earlier board of selectmen meeting, Police Lt. Dave Burton said the boat would have twin 300 horsepower engines and would be 30 feet long, although that is not final and could be reduced, Pendleton said.

The Representative Town Meeting will have to approve the grant before it becomes official.

The Interrogation

Pendleton and Burton, flanked by a Coast Guard representative and one from the Southeastern Connecticut Enterprise Region, fielded questions for almost an hour from the board of finance. Board member George Peteros was the most critical of the new boat, and ultimately the only member not to support the grant.

Pendleton explained that Homeland Security identified a weakness in the greater New London area, and is using this money to fix that weakness. Peteros countered that the inability of Homeland Security, along with other federal programs, to stop finding needs is “why we have a massive national debt.”

Other board members were worried about how the boat would affect the town’s budget after the three-year grant expired. New London and East Lyme would help pay for the operating costs, and it would not increase Waterford’s budget, Pendleton said.

If New London and East Lyme refused to help pay for the operational costs, Pendleton said he would park the boat rather than have Waterford pay for the entire operation. However, that is unlikely to happen, Pendleton said.

“This is the new way we are going to do business,” the police chief said. “It is all about getting partnerships.”

Other board members questioned what this boat would do that the current boat cannot do. Pendleton and Burton gave a few specific examples.

The new boat’s infrared sensors will allow the police to find people on the water at night, Pendleton said. Last year, a father and daughter were lost for hours in a rowboat at night after the father drank too much and fell asleep, he said. With the infrared sensors, the police could have located them within a half-hour, Pendleton said.

Having the ability to hold a dive team is important, even though Waterford does not have a dive team, because it can drive other dive teams into Waterford, Pendleton said. Earlier this year, a man committed suicide by jumping off of the Gold Star Memorial Bridge, and it took 24 hours to get a dive team to the area, Burton said.

The boat will also have a collar (i.e., a foam ring around the boat) to make it easier to board other boats, Pendleton said. This way, when boarding or coming next to a boat, it won’t damage either vessel, Pendleton said.

“This is an ideal gift,” Pendleton said.

The board of finance voted 5-1 to approve the boat, with only Peteros opposed. Board member Norman Glidden was absent.

Waterford Rez September 21, 2011 at 12:42 PM
John, My point is this country is going bankrupt, literally. This is the mindset that got us here and will drive us over the cliff. We are not the only town in the USA getting a "free boat". There are hundreds, if not thousands of towns getting them. At what point do we say no thanks? When will we realize that cumulatively we are all responsible for destroying our kids futures and saddling them with a debt they will not be able to pay? It's the mindset I am against John. There is no doubt that the intentions are good. We, as a nation, have completely lost the sense of fiscal responsibility. It's like a drunk saying "Just one more drink, then I'll quit". John, This county has 15-20% un/under employment, we are 14 TRILLION $$ in the hole, we borrow $125 billion every month from China and other countries. This country will cease to exist as we know it soon if we don't change our way of running government, and that must start at the local level. God knows Washington certainly doesn't have the will power. Every politician is bought and payed for there, every single one. Let's start here.
Waterford Rez September 21, 2011 at 01:12 PM
John, on a side note, who will pay for fuel, insurance, maintenance, repair and crew training? Just because you are a police officer who can fish on the weekend in your 19" boat in the sound does not mean you are qualified to perform Search and Rescue and Maritime Law Enforcement. The US Coast Guard trains for months to qualify and trains almost every day to stay proficient. Same with CT DEP. The laws change, even on the water. Some laws are not even enforceable by local law enforcement. That is why the USCG has never been under local jurisdiction and under DOD (unless at war). Their authority to conduct law enforcement falls under Title 14 in the US Code, this way they do not violate Posse Comitatus. The CG also is constantly testifying in court as a result of law enforcement actions (usually win). Of course, Search and Rescue can be performed by anyone. Training is essential however. This all cost money. Also, please do not forget the man-hours, and please don't say they are salaried so they get paid anyway. They are being paid to patrol out streets and respond to emergencies on land right now. What account is their training hours and underway hours being billed to? What about when they have to testify in court? Who pays that bill? Please don't say the town, because if you do, you have obligated Waterford taxpayer money to support this boat. That was promised to us that that would not happen. Thanks...
John Sheehan September 21, 2011 at 03:12 PM
Training, and maintenance is part of the three year agreement. Volunteer officers from East Lyme, Waterford, and New London will be trained to handle the boat. It is hoped it will save Waterford dollars because East Lyme and New London will be picking up the tab for some of the officers. Right now, the boat patrol run by the police department is soley a Waterford expense. The Coast Guard folks are overtasked and that is why they are supporting this local effort. By the way, USCG is under DHS unless in time of war when it reports to DOD. USCG officers have law enforcement and arrest powers while Naval Officers do not. In other states, this effort would be done by the County government. Since CT does not have county government, the towns and cities have to take up the slack. The Police Officers will get special training and must qualify on the boat just as they do now. The Water patrol has been part of the police budget for a number of years - This is an opportunity to upgrade that capability through the grant process. IT is a cost to the federal taxpayer, not the town taxpayer (I admit we are all both).
Waterford Rez September 21, 2011 at 03:54 PM
Yes, you are correct, that is exactly what I said. USCG is guided by numerous Titles in the CFR for various occasions. It was under DOT before DHS, Treasury before DOT, history goes back to 1790. Not, the point. I guess we just have different opinions on how we, as a country, state and town should be spending the money of the citizens, both locally and federally. Money that many work hard for and believe it should be spent wiser. The empirical evidence that exist right now is we are NOT doing a good job. That fact can not be argued. Lastly, and I will gracefully bow out, is how sad is this: The solution to the funding running out is that we put on blocks a one half million dollar boat, paid for by you, me and every other citizen that pays federal income taxes (which is only half of us now, different subject). Half a million dollars plus all the other expenses gone....never to be recovered. That's the big solution to the lack of funding. Either find more funding or kiss an investment goodbye. It's is a no win for the taxpayer. And we wonder why we are 14 trillion in the hole and going deeper..... So what's done is done. Let's hope it will "earn its keep". I wish the best to those who will be on it serving this county. Train hard and play easy. Always remember: The sea yields to knowledge. PS: Thank you John for your opinions and information. We just don't agree.
RAV October 01, 2011 at 12:53 PM
Thank you George Peteros, somebody on the board of finance tried to do the right thing without much support from his fellow board members. We'll see if we can fix that in the next election. Another article in the patch talks about citizens sitting on their boats and not taking their boats out because of the costs, yet the government wants an over the top twin 300 HP 30 foot boat, kind of ironic. Federal, State and town government spending needs to be controlled, we need more people with common sense on these boards.

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