Po­lice to lease re­place­ments for fail­ing equip­ment

The Sault Star - - NEWS - BRIAN KELLY [email protected]­media.com On Twit­ter: @Saultre­porter

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.”

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