Gahanna residents should see increased police visibility in city parks and other off road areas if council approves funds for a Polaris Ranger 800 all-terrain vehicle.
During the Jan. 28 council committee meeting, Lt. Jeff Spence requested that council authorize transferring $18,200 from the unencumbered, un-appropriated balance of the Federal Law Enforcement Trust Fund to the FLETF Capital Equipment account for the vehicle.
Spence said the police division's uniformed personnel would use the ATV to patrol and respond to incidents in Gahanna's parks, trail systems and in other off-road areas. The vehicle also would be used for special events, like the Creekside Blues & Jazz Festival and the Freedom Festival, in which transportation of officers and response to situations via existing police vehicles is sometimes impractical.
Council member Brian Larick asked how the vehicle would be equipped.
"We intend to equip it as a police vehicle," Spence said. "It's built for military and law enforcement. The unit will have a roll cage and cab, lights, sirens, GPS and network capability for laptops."
The vehicle would provide for increased police visibility in off-road areas and would provide the ability to respond more rapidly than officers on foot or bicycle, as is the current practice.
Spence told ThisWeek the Franklin County Sheriff's Department uses all-terrain vehicles.
The police division also is requesting that council authorize the supplemental appropriation of $13,520 from the general fund to the police-duty weapon fund for the purpose of purchasing additional patrol rifles.
Spence said the police-duty weapon fund is used to purchase weapons -- primarily patrol rifles -- for police officers.
Police Chief Dennis Murphy said the city's officers own their own weapons.
"They train with them," he said. "We're responsible for every bullet."
As a result of recent events, Spence said, the purchase of weapons is a day-to-day challenge.
He said hand guns are scarce these days, and magazines are almost non-existent.
Spence said the supplemental appropriation would be budget-neutral, saying all funds expended would be returned through a system of 26 payroll deductions by the officers who receive weapons.
The funded amount for 2013 accounted for only those officers already on the list and who are awaiting weapons.
The additional increase would fund the remaining officers who since have requested patrol rifles, Spence said.