Police to lease replacements for failing equipment
City police will lease, rather than buy, most of the needed equipment for its emergency services and explosive disposals units to replace tools that are old and failing.
In a report, Sgt. Rodney Burrows of ESU notes all the equipment being sought to be replaced is old and not working well.
The robot was used when it was donated to the police department and has undergone “numerous repairs” over the last two decades.
“It is literally held together by wires and tape, requires repairs most times before deploying and has a high probability of not working when we need it most,” he said.
The bomb suit is 17 years old. Its communication system “currently works intermittently” after being repaired several times.
“At times the EDU member in the bomb suit is unable to communicate with any other persons on the ground,” said Burrows.
The four night vision binoculars are about 18 years old.
“Our units are antiquated and worn out,” said Burrows.
Stevenson told reporters following the meeting’s open portion that now was the time to get replacement equipment.
“We looked at our budget. We looked for opportunities to invest and we chose to invest now,” he said. “I wouldn’t say for a minute that any of the command staff here would say that the way we acted in the past was unsafe because the equipment they had was allowing them to get the job done. This is simply investing for the future.”
Stevenson compared the police department purchases to someone buying a car.
“All equipment has a life cycle,” he said. “When you buy your new Lincoln it’s great in the first couple of years and you have to put oil and tires and brakes on it. It’s no different in this industry. The technology changes. You get better warranties. You get better equipment and then we move to that better equipment.”
Stevenson became chief in June. “At no point” was he told since then his officers or the public would be at risk using the equipment that will now be replaced.
The leasing option will cost $32,500 more, a report by finance coordinator Angela Davey to Sault Ste. Marie Police Services Board says. The money will be taken from the police department’s capital reserve account.
A robot for the bomb disposal unit costs $120,000 to buy. Lease expense is $28,500 per year over five years, for a total of $142,500.
A bomb suit will cost $70,000 to lease over five years, rather than buying for $60,000.
Four night vision devices will be purchased for $15,250 each, or $61,000 total.
Stevenson called the leasing option “fiscally smarter over time.
“What I’m trying to do is spread (the cost) out over time as opposed to have it hit me hard at once,” he told Ward 5 councillor Marchy Bruni. The city councillor noted leasing the equipment would cost more than $30,000 more.
The police service also benefits from support assistance from the lessor.
The current robot is more than 20 years old and is “held together with a lot of Band-Aid solutions,” Chief Hugh Stevenson told board members during a meeting last Thursday. A robot can enter a building and remove an explosive device “without any risk of human injury or death,” said Stevenson.
The police board also approved spending about $50,000 for several parking lot repairs including paving a former island location, adding a sewer near a maintenance garage and nearby resloping to allow for runoff so water doesn’t pool and pose a slip and fall threat.
Police board member Rick Webb noted a report about capital reserve expenditures noted Band-Aid solutions “quite a bit” with regards to “aging infrastructure.” He asked about a conference dealing with planning, designing and constructing police buildings attended by SSMPS last April.
Board members “will get an overview” of that workshop at a January meeting, said Stevenson.
Former chief Bob Davies called the two-storey building on Second Line East “a money pit” regarding maintenance costs in 2013. Police headquarters opened in 1969 with an addition in 1991.
In a meeting last May, the possibility of needing a new heating, ventilation and air conditioning system was raised. Estimated cost was $500,000 to $750,000.
In a report, Insp. Mike Davey said a “troublesome” HVAC system results in “half the building (being) too cold and the other half too hot.”