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Waterford's New Police Boat

Police Chief Hopes The Boat Leads To More Regionalization

When Waterford Police Chief Murray Pendleton was picking out a decal for he could have easily plastered Waterford Police all over it. But that wasn’t really the point.

“This is a Waterford Police boat, I could have put Waterford Police all over it without worrying about anything,” he said. “But that’s not what this is all about.”

Instead, the decal reads “Southeastern Connecticut Marine Patrol.” Why? Because Pendleton believes this boat is just the first step of many to regionalize police and other services, the only way towns will be able to afford adequate services in the future.

“These towns like East Lyme, Waterford, they don’t have the tax base anymore,” Pendleton said. “And what winds up happening is you would get a boat that kind of is a police boat, or a boat that is kind of a harbor management boat, but you have two of them. Now you have one boat, one real police boat, that meets all the needs, that takes care of all of it.”

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Waterford purchased the boat with a $520,000 grant from Homeland Security. Waterford Police, East Lyme Police and possibly even New London Police will all use the boat to patrol the Niantic River and other waterways, Pendleton said.

“We try to maximize our efforts to have some economies of scale,” East Lyme First Selectman Paul Formica said, who is also the town’s chief of police. “(Regionalization) is about providing a service for less or providing an expanded service at the same cost.”

Pendleton and Formica said East Lyme and Waterford will only use this boat for police patrol for now. They said they will now have one fully equipped boat out on marine patrol up to six times a week for the same cost of having two poorly equipped boats on marine patrol three times a week.

About The Boat

The boat is 28 feet long and has a rubber collar around it so police can easily board other vessels, Pendleton said. It is equipped with an infrared sensor and can support a dive team, he said.

The boat can handle much choppier weather than the old police boat, which the town bought from a private citizen for $25,000 in the late 1990s, Pendleton said. It also has a cabin that can hold up to four people and has a special air filtration system so police officers can stay in the cabin safely during a time when the air is not breathable, such as in a Hazmat situation or a fire, he said.

Another nice feature is it has a bathroom, so officers do not have to keep coming back to shore, Pendleton said. Officers are currently being trained to use the boat, and it will be on the water by Memorial Day, he said.

Pendleton said the boat would be used to enforce boating laws as well as providing additional security to Millstone Power Station. He also said the boat could be used by EMS personnel during water emergencies as well.

“There is lots of activity in Southeastern Connecticut in the summer,” said Formica, echoing Pendleton’s words. “This is just another tool in the arsenal.”

The $520,000 grant bought the boat and will pay for the first three years of maintenance and training for the boat.

Stepping Stone?

Pendleton, who time and time again , said this is the first step in regionalizing more services. If regional marine patrol works out well, perhaps other services could be regionalized or , he said.

Pendleton hypothesized that other towns have been trepid about regionalizing services partly because of a lack of trust. By having a regional service that does work, it will help build that trust, he said.

Formica agreed. Regionalization is one of the best ways to keep costs down while providing the same or even better services, he said.

Kevin Girard May 09, 2012 at 10:51 AM
Kudos to Pendleton for being a visionary. I am curious how the boat will be staffed - Will it use the officers that have already been doing boating patrols? Will it be a new officer (or two or three)? Will it have regional officers (maybe a rotation between NL, Waterford, EL?) It certainly is very nice to get a "free" boat from the state, but with local taxes being raised almost 6% per year, Malloy installing retrospective tax increases to fill budget deficits, I am a bit unsure why our town has to take another expense on (presumably in year 4). It'd be nice to see other towns chipping in either monetarily or in-kind with the regionalization efforts. All I really see is Waterford leading the way (especially with our cash!) and politicians everywhere patting themselves on the back for it.
Robby May 09, 2012 at 01:54 PM
I agree with Kevin's comment. And is Chief Pendleton going to continue to assign senior officers to the boat, with the built-in overtime, in order to increase their income in their final years of work so they can get larger retirement benefits?
David E. May 10, 2012 at 12:34 PM
What is its mission? How much of that mission is already covered by the Coast Guard? “Free” boat, nothing is free. Even if Waterford tax payers didn't pay for it directly we paid for it through other taxes and we will be paying though the nose for upkeep. What is the annual budget? Does it include manning, maintenance/upkeep? Does the annual budget include savings for a future replacement? The 2 happiest days in a man’s life are the day he bought a boat and the day he sold the boat. BOAT=Break Out Another Thousand. The cost to maintain/repair this boat is going to be out of sight. If we had significant/very large inland (Landlocked) waterways not patrolled by the Coast Guard then maybe, maybe this could be justified. The thought that this is free because the FED GOV paid for it is the reason we, as a country, are in the shape we are in.
Daniella Ruiz May 10, 2012 at 12:52 PM
good to see some regional type thinking going on in the upper echelon of our safety personnel. when the insular thinking goes away, we may all start to realize the benefits of a more coherent security approach. just as DHS has taken many departments together and brought the concept of shared information into play, the organized efforts become more efficient and effective. thus causing the 'bad guys' some extra effort, failed crime attempts, early detection and some 'loss of revenue'. does it smack of socialism? probably to many people, it does, but it is that very social coherence needed to thwart the onset and insidious degradation of what's left of our once great country.
John Sheehan May 11, 2012 at 02:16 AM
When the boat purchase was presented to the Board of Finance, Chief Pendleton explained that the boat would be crewed by officers from each of the participating municipalities (one officer from East Lyme and one from Waterford for example). It allows for more frequent patrols without increasing the marine patrol salary line since it will not be two officers from one department. For those who say that the Coast Guard should do the patrolling, during the same presentation, a Coast Guard representative explained that with all of the missions being asked of the USCG these days, it is not able to patrol the way it has done in the past (prior to 9/11). For boater safety and security for the various "high value targets" in SE CT, local law enforcement and emergency responders must pick up more of the slack. I agree with Chief Pendleton that regionalization is the only way to keep or improve services and still keep tax increases as low as possible.
Dave Lersch May 11, 2012 at 12:05 PM
I was assigned to USCG Station New London in the early 80's when every time an OHIO class sub was launched or commissioned, there were a gaggle of protestors waiting to make their mark. If it weren't for local and state marine patrol assistance, there would not have been sufficient resources to provide adequate protection. Same was true with other "surge" events like the fireworks display and Harvard - Yale Regatta. Hope we're thinking about maintenance, repair and training costs past 3 years.
Johnny Habanero May 22, 2012 at 09:04 PM
Maybe Murray Pendleton is going to water ski behind the boat?

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