Last week, the Ocean View added a Honda Pioneer — an off-road vehicle — to its police department. The vehicle was entirely paid for through a grant from the Special Law Enforcement Agency Fund (SLEAF).
“All the drug-seizure money is combined into a pot. By law, it’s set aside for law-enforcement purposes,” explained OVPD Chief Ken McLaughlin. “Then the different law enforcement agencies that participate and contribute to SLEAF — and not all do — have the opportunity to apply to the SLEAF committee to fund certain law-enforcement projects.”
The department received approximately $12,000 to purchase the new off-road vehicle. It will be used to patrol the newly opened Assawoman Canal Trail, as well as other areas of the town not accessibly by car.
“We’ve been talking about getting one of these for a while. Ever since we knew the canal [trail] was being built, we knew we needed a way to control the canal,” said Cpl. Rhys Bradshaw, noting that the Delaware Department of Natural Resources & Environmental Control uses the same vehicle. “It’s also good if we need to get back on the Bear Trap golf course, because our cars don’t always fit.”
“If we had a bad storm and we can’t get the cars out, or we don’t want to get them out, we can take this out instead,” added McLaughlin.
Bradshaw said the department will be patrolling the trail at least a couple times a week, either by foot or on the Pioneer.
“We just want to keep everyone happy and safe on the trail.”
The vehicle is equipped with four-wheel drive, off-road tires and a tilting bed. It is also marked as a police vehicle and will have lights installed, but no siren.
“People will see it and know it’s a police vehicle, the way we have it marked,” said Bradshaw. “It’ll serve many purposes.”
Aside from patrolling areas that are difficult to access with a regular police vehicle, McLaughlin said it would be beneficial if there was a call for medical assistance.
“We’re going to get a collapsible backboard that goes with it, so if, in one of those areas, someone were to get hurt, we can drive it out there, put them on the backboard and get them out to the road.”
He added that it will also be a good community policing tool at town events, such as Homecoming and the Bear Trap Fourth of July parade.
McLaughlin said the new vehicle is an asset to the Town that wouldn’t be possible without the SLEAF grant.
“It’s one of those luxury things. We would not otherwise get something like that if it wasn’t for the SLEAF grant.”