The purchase of the Warwick Police Department’s first armored car- estimated to be delivered to the department in fourteen months- drew significant attention from the public at Monday …
The purchase of the Warwick Police Department’s first armored car- estimated to be delivered to the department in fourteen months- drew significant attention from the public at Monday night’s City Council meeting.
Much of the night’s meeting time was taken up by discussions of the meeting’s bid package, which included the vehicle purchase, during the Finance Committee meeting.
The purchase of the vehicle- a BearCat G3 Armored Vehicle produced by Lanco Armored Vehicles in Pittsfield, Mass.- would makes Warwick among the first municipal poliAce departments in the state with an armored vehicle. Major Andrew Sullivan said that the only other department in the state that he knew with confidence had a similar vehicle was East Providence’s.
In total, the vehicle costs $360,868, not including maintenance, although the cost of buying the vehicle will be covered by American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds. Sullivan, speaking on behalf of the police department, said that he does not expect maintenance to be notably different than non-armored cars in the department’s fleet.
“This is an alternative to buying such a machine five years from now, when ARPA money is long gone and this is coming out of the city’s operating budget,” Sullivan said.
Armored vehicles borrowed from the state department were used in four different instances, according to Mayor Frank Picozzi, who was not in attendance at the meeting but was in favor of making the purchases.
“It’s critical now for public safety and police safety,” Picozzi said.
Some members of the public in attendance, though, questioned whether purchasing the armored vehicle was a good financial decision if the city could use vehicles from the Rhode Island State Police in such a situation.
“I understand that there would be points when we do need this asset, but is it really that feasible to get it at a minute’s notice when we can’t just rush something in like this at a minute’s notice?” resident John Savaggio said.
Other residents questioned Sullivan on whether the machine would be of use in defusing a situation with someone experiencing a mental health crisis, with Nancy Cornish suggesting that another armored vehicle would be less intimidating and cheaper, potentially allowing the department to buy two.
“We do need armored vehicles [but] I am a little concerned that this particular vehicle doesn’t look like an up-armored Humvee but maybe more threatening,” Cornish. “That’s another possibility- to even get a few up-armored Humvees rather than a huge BearCat, so they don’t make people feel so threatened.”
The meeting turned particularly heated when resident Barry Cook, speaking against the purchase, called City Council President Stephen McAllister and Ward 3 Councilman Tim Howe “great defense attorneys.” This followed Cook saying that Howe had been defending Sullivan, who Cook said was not as prepared as he’d have liked him to be, and Cook yelled it over Howe’s interruption that he had exceeded his allotted time to speak.
In response, Howe moved to disallow Cook from receiving additional time to speak following other speakers’ time, saying that he had not shown common courtesy, though other members of the council overruled him.
The final bid package passed, with the only item held for more discussion at the next council meeting being the statistical reappraisal of property located within city limits.
Due to the extended committee meetings, the City Council meeting proper began at 9:03, and lasted for approximately twenty minutes.
The council unanimously approved eight appointments to city commissions. All but one- the appointment of Diane McConnell to the Historical Cemeteries Commission- were reappointments.
Among items passed during the meeting were new requests for proposal (RFPs) for city infrastructure projects to be financed with ARPA funds. Each member of the council was previously given $200,000 of the city’s ARPA funds to spend individually within their district.
Among the projects announced was Ward 2 Councilman Jeremy Rix’s first official project- ADA improvements at the Norwood Library. Also announced were projects in Ward 5: the installation of solar-powered speed signs on Sandy Lane, Tidewater Drive and Church Ave and the installation of a bench along Ocean Ave, projects in Ward 6: the installation of solar-powered speed signs near Oakland Beach, Warwick Veterans and Park Schools, and a project in Ward 9 to beautify the intersection of Post Road and Cowesett Road.
Ward 5 Councilman Ed Ladouceur also amended the projects in Ward 5 to include two solar-powered speed signs near The Learning Garden on Warwick Neck Ave. In a purchase unrelated to ARPA funds, the council also passed a resolution brought forward by Ward 8 Councilman Anthony Sinapi to place a yield sign at the intersection of Wellspring Drive and Eastgate Drive.
The council also passed a resolution declaring Sept. 20 as Robert Shapiro Day throughout the city.
The Warwick City Council’s next meeting will be held on Monday, Feb. 26.
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