MERIDEN — The police department will receive a new SWAT vehicle to transport officers and equipment.
The City Council voted recently to purchase an outfitted Ford Transit Connect Van for about $57,000.
Police Chief Jeffry Cossette said the police department’s SWAT van recently broke down after 28 years of service. It was already 11 years old when Hunter’s Ambluance donated the vehicle to the city 2001.
”This vehicle right now is older than our mayor,” Cossette joked.
The van is used to transport special tactical equipment, weapons and officers. Funds from the department’s cruiser rental account will be used to purchase the van.
Councilor Bruce Fontanella questioned why the van needed to be purchased immediately, pointing out the department has access to a regional armored vehicle. He argued the purchase should be vetted through the City Council’s Finance Committee or included in next year’s budget.
Cossette urged the council to approve the purchase immediately, saying the department’s ability to respond to emergencies, including an active shooter situation, is hampered without a SWAT vehicle.
“If we start scrambling with cruisers when that team is necessary that’s where we are going to have a problem and that’s where lives are going to be in jeopardy,” Cossette said. “Just because nothing has happened the last six month doesn’t mean it’s not going to happen tomorrow.”
Normally a stickler for protocol, Councilor Walter Shamock voted to approve the purchase without referring the matter to the Finance Committee.
“In light of today’s environment I’m not comfortable with playing Russian Roulette with the safety of our kids and safety of our public,” Shamock said.