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Council Permits Bids for Armored Vehicle

Officials defend the seemingly imminent purchase of the armored rescue vehicle in the face of criticism over the price tag.

Gloucester Township Council on Monday paved the way for the purchase of a $250,000 armored rescue vehicle for the Police Department.

But not before some residents, concerned by the vehicle's cost, questioned why the township Police Department doesn't just push for greater access to the Camden County Sheriff's Department armored rescue vehicle.

"The vehicle that the county has, we used to be able to go pick it up and use it, but they changed that," Deputy Police Chief David Harkins told Valleybrook resident Darren Gladden early in the meeting. "We're not allowed to do that. We have to wait for a sheriff's officer to respond with it."

The county's armored rescue vehicle is parked either at the Lakeland complex, which is in Gloucester Township, or in nearby Lindenwold, Harkins later said.

Ray Polidoro, an Erial resident and chairman of Gloucester Township Republican Municipal Committee, and Tom Crone, founder of conservative watchdog group South Jersey Citizens, questioned the need for the township to own an armored assault vehicle with the Sheriff's Department's already regularly stationed inside the township's borders.

"We share many things with the county. We do a lot of things for the county," Polidoro said. "We do a tremendous amount of things at Lakeland. We provide fire service, police service. Maybe it's time the county gives a little bit back. We could look into that to see if we could save a quarter million dollars and protect our police officers at the same time."

Council on Monday approved the solicitation of bids for the police vehicle, which will be purchased using both unused capital improvement funds from prior years and proceeds from drug forfeiture cases, officials said.

Council must first approve an ordinance allowing the township to use the unexpended capital funds before officials can move forward with the purchase of the armored vehicle. That ordinance will likely be heard on second reading and adopted at Council's Jan. 28 meeting.

Harkins noted the Police Department was considering an armored rescue vehicle long before the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Newtown, CT, prompted officials nationwide to begin thinking about ways to revamp school security.

He also pointed out the Lenco armored rescue vehicle's roughly $250,000 price tag is about the same cost as two dump trucks.

"I would love to say that we'll never, ever need it—and that's a good thing—in Gloucester Township," he said. "But the time comes when we get some madman who wants to open fire on people or officers, it's the only type of equipment that's going to be able to get us into position quickly. Minutes. Minutes make the difference."

As a former commander of the Police Department's Special Response Team (called SWAT in other towns), Harkins pointed to the armored rescue vehicle as an invaluable tool.

"I can tell you that when you're hiding behind either a police car or a vehicle or a tree, and you hear shots being fired and you don't know where they're coming from, it's a scary situation and the only thing...it's hard to find things that will stop the types of ammunition we often run into," he said. "This vehicle is a life-saving tool."

The deputy chief recalled an active shooting he responded to in fall 2009 in the area of Fox Meadow Drive.

"Having to wait an hour for a similar vehicle to come from Gloucester County—it was the only one in the area at the time—we were really concerned about residents being stuck in," Harkins said. "We used that vehicle to literally back up to someone's house and were loading elderly people and children into this vehicle. It's the only thing that would stop bullets."

Harkins noted the township Police Department's request for its own armored rescue vehicle should not be taken as a criticism of the Sheriff's Department's typical response time.

"I only know that the Sheriff's Department often is not on call 24/7. We have at minimum 15 police officers working around the clock, 24 hours a day, seven days a week," he said. "Many of our tactical officers are working on every shift. It's just faster. It's going to be faster. Minutes make all the difference."

He later added there could be occasions when the rescue vehicle is going to be in use in other towns and not available to Gloucester Township Police.

Council President Glen Bianchini asserted the Police Department does not frivolously ask the township for vehicles and equipment.

"They've always been an organization and a group that prides themsevles on doing the right things, first and foremost in the utilization of funds," he said.

Darren Gladden January 17, 2013 at 03:36 PM
Thank you all for writting your comments but out of a town of 70,000 15 people show up to a council MEETINGS..........Next council meeting we should have that whole room filled or you people just going to LET team Stache WIN .......WAKE UP this is our town and money they are PPPPPPPPPPPPP issssssssssssssssssssssssing down the drain ......Just hit 8 more pot holes today
N/A January 17, 2013 at 04:57 PM
Darren, I guess you don't remember where any of these mysterious potholes are do you? Seems pretty irresponsible of you not to report them to the appropriate people so they can be fixed? Is that how little respect you have for the residents of this town that you would rather come on here and complain instead of complaining to the people that can make the repairs? That Darren "Vote I Don't" nickname should be changed to: "Do Nothing Darren," Because that's what you do about things you say are going on in this town; NOTHING!
Mel January 17, 2013 at 05:05 PM
Ok N/A, how about all of Erial road where your friends at the MUA dug it up and replaced it with a shoddy patch along the length of it? The same Erial road where Mayor Mayer said the town is not going to re-pave. So who is going to fix the road that was tore up so we could install piping to serve Winslow? This WAS reported to the town. Their response was they would do 24 inches from the curb but not cover where the MUA crew patched. Talk about irresponsible!
N/A January 17, 2013 at 05:12 PM
Can you post the link because I have tried to find it and going back 2 years they make no mention of this purchase at the price you quoted on Newark patch. I'd love to know the differences in type of truck or amenities or have prices just changed over the last few years in general.
Sybil Evans January 17, 2013 at 05:52 PM
John you are correct we should get a helicopter, and we should reopen the Nike base and we should also buy some police motorcycles. Then we can start filming CSIGT and get some money back from Hollywood producers. The first episode can be called, "The Stalker". I can see it now opening scene would be at a home with gutters ripped down in the background you would hear a phone ringing camera view changes to a woman inside cowering down under a vanity hiding from someone while shaking in terror. Next screen cut you would see an unidentified man running away from the home scared to death like he knew the character sitting in an SUV outside the home. Next cut scene you would see that new armored vehicle securing the perimeter of the streets then the helicopter appears flashing the lights down on the SUV showing the silhouette of a DMV employee on the phone in the SUV her big bushy hairdo flinging all over the place, the police realize the women is screaming into the phone. Next scene the police car that reads license plates determines the person in the car at 2AM with the lights out screaming does not live on that side of the town and they close in. Next scene The police are interviewing the homeowner who is terrified for her life and decides to press charges just to make sure this person stays away from her and then it is discovered the person running from the home may have been the husband of the person in custody or was it his brother the sex offender. Plot thickens!
Joe January 17, 2013 at 05:59 PM
True dat.
Joe January 17, 2013 at 06:01 PM
Who do you report to? The Feds is Organized Crime.
Joe January 17, 2013 at 06:02 PM
Yeah, lets wrap it with a picture of the Mayor. Or like the street sweeper.
Joe January 17, 2013 at 06:09 PM
Been their. They will ignor anything you have to say that opposes their views. Impeach them all.
leonard picks January 18, 2013 at 02:00 AM
The mayor and police are shadey. Can't wait to see him locked up along with the rest of his dirty administration.
leonard picks January 18, 2013 at 02:02 AM
I see why people dislike this mayor and his dirty dealers. This police force is overpaid and an audit should be in place like the DRPA
Susan Greene January 18, 2013 at 04:19 AM
Are you confusing "Potholes" with "School Toilets" again? YOU seems to have a obsession with them. The next Council Meeting they should stick a sock in your mouth when you start screaming, I watched it online and heard your anger fueled comments and profanity you used towards Council. In my opinion that should have never been allowed, no wonder no one wants to come out and see it in person. One of Paul's friends told me that it was awful they way you behaved. God forbid Darren, If your family was in a dangerous situation where they needed to be evacuated and the only way for them to get to safety was via this vehicle and it turned out bad because we didn't have one , YOU SIR, would be the first one at council screaming WHY don't we have one. Regardless of the Haters opinions on here I believe we have one of the best Professional Police Dept. in the State, give them the tools they need to do the job. Remember, Never say Never, or not in my town, it's unfortunate that the bad guys have bigger guns than our Police, and you can thank the NRA for that...
Susan Greene January 18, 2013 at 04:23 AM
It's Crystal clear to me who you are, I hope you got your Drivers License renewed before you left DMV !!!!
Darren Gladden January 18, 2013 at 05:16 AM
Really .....Dude you got issues Sybil
Darren Gladden January 18, 2013 at 05:30 AM
NA I will not get into it with you again ......SMH ....Just keep having Lenni read from the IPOD touch screen Phone u guys got him train him well "SMH" and do nothing "okay" and there reason why some people don't vote DON'T judge my voting record there a Reason why I did not vote for these A-9 in office Today OMG does anyone have a real plan ............Now for you Mrs Ray of Sunshine Susan I don't take to kindly of Book Worms Peeps like yourself stating for people to stick thing in one mouth .How about you come and try it Young lady .You bash people for hate and then you turn around and do the same thing. 'WHO MADE YOU QUEEN' Hey Susan WAKE UP cause you are just like Paul but without a picture . What do you got to hide hey maybe I can even set you two up on a blind date ... . .See it's people like yourself Susan is why nothing get's done and done right you aint BETTER then me cause u speak without a Potty mouth get a clue WORDS don't kill .......People DO .....Just care ., I do
Paul J. DiBartolo January 18, 2013 at 02:16 PM
I'm not sure, should I be thanking you, Darren?
Darren Gladden January 18, 2013 at 02:37 PM
No thanks needed , ....;-)
Charles January 18, 2013 at 07:47 PM
Susan: How can you blame the NRA for criminals having better guns than the police? Seems like the police would have a great militia ready to assist them if the NRA's position were to be adopted. Reminder: One of the worst states for gun crime is also the ONLY one that does not permit concealed carry by anyone except police (Illinois).
Paul J. DiBartolo January 18, 2013 at 11:04 PM
Talk about it being clear who someone is...you use the same old tired phrases under each pseudonym you hide behind. Why not come out into the light and show us who you really are and stop hiding behind a woman's name?
Rich January 20, 2013 at 03:17 AM
I am a second generation resident of Gloucester Township and so disappointed with the current state of things. Words cannot express my disappointment. I received my most recent paycheck, which was noticeable smaller, I'm informed my taxes are going up and then I find out my police department is buying a quarter million dollar armored vehicle! Do we live in Iraq! This started me on research project, which only made me madder! Camden County has the same vehicle, parked In our town and accessible whenever we need it! It's crazy! Then I find out our police administrators basically lied and hyped things in order to justify buying one! The chief deliberately testified that " No other municipalities in the county have one!"  Maybe that's because they are so expensive and not need on a regular basis and the county has one! So I do some more research and find that our cops are the highest payed in the county! How nice for them! Then I find that my tax dollars already pay for a county swat team, and now a local team! And our local team does most of their work outside of the town! Why am I paying for my cops to leave the town when the county can do it? We don't need a swat team or an armored truck! we are a big town with small town problems! Then I see another police administrator deliberately lied about the county's availability! If we can't trust these guys, who can we trust? And why are the town politicians allowing this to happen! Something needs to be done!
Darren Gladden January 20, 2013 at 04:21 AM
Go to a Council meeting and state your feeling cause nobody listen to me I'm a potty mouth crazy guy .This TOWN needs a change and the only way to do that is for us all to come TOGETHER and vote MAYOR MAYER and his team out ...........Just think better schools for our kids , Pave roads , no big Guys driving around hitting the fast food joints all over town in HIS PICkUP TRUCK ......He Lenny save us some gas don't drive around VETS PARK in da truck get out and walk the track maybe it would help you control your temper ......;-) ....STAND up people of GT and let's send Hollywood DAVE bunch of crooks PACKING this year
Darren Gladden January 20, 2013 at 04:37 AM
P.S .........As you make your choices as to who will lead Council for the next two years, I hope you will consider the disgusting actions of the Democrat Party and the response of the Republicans. These mailers are not just attacks on me but an insult to every citizen of Gloucester Township. It follows their documented behavior of using trickery, fear, and intimidation to govern this town. It is time we sent a message to both parties. Vote column 5 and no one else.....Told you back then and I'll tell you now ..........TRICKERY,FEAR, AND INTIMIDATION and I can prove it ALL . Now will you People WAKE up it's time to change things for the BETTER for ALL ...
Joe January 20, 2013 at 12:25 PM
If Obama gets his wish eventually and guns are banned then the police won't have anyone shooting at them and we all will be safe, right? So no need for armored vehicles. Or, will they need it when ordered to come to take your gun away?
True Dat January 20, 2013 at 03:52 PM
Who really wrote this?
EaglesFan856 January 20, 2013 at 07:12 PM
Big town with small town problems?
Debbie Shinn February 02, 2013 at 10:22 PM
Not just the mayor, council needs to be changed. Stop re-electing the same coucil year after year. That is what happends after a while. "Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely." I belirve this council does what they want to do because they are now they are unapposed.
Debbie Shinn February 02, 2013 at 10:32 PM
CC You had me till your comments about SWAT. After that it would seem you have an agenda. I'm not sure everything you are offering here is to be believed at face value. What law enforcement agency do you represent. Why isn't the County vehicle for the County SWAT a "TOY". Just sayin...
Debbie Shinn February 02, 2013 at 10:36 PM
N/A Potholes are located the entire length of Erial Rd, from College to Cross Keys. GET BUSY!!!!
Debbie Shinn February 02, 2013 at 10:43 PM
The Town Council trusts anything the Chief says and supports anything the Chief asks for, so says Council Pres.
Paul J. DiBartolo February 03, 2013 at 02:16 AM
What's your point, Head?

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