LINCOLN — The Police Department has a new friend to aid in their pursuit of service, integrity and justice, the qualities named on every officer's badge.
It's called a UTV, or utility terrain vehicle, and the department purchased it recently courtesy of a federal Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant — one available through the U.S. Department of Justice — worth $13,784. Chief Brian Sullivan indicated the all-electric side-by-side Transport Pro Police UTV would be used to trek to areas ordinary cruisers can't.
“It's available to all members of the police department to utilize … to get to places like the (Blackstone Valley) Bike Path, Chase Farm, the river banks in Quinnville and other heavily-wooded locations,” he stated. “It will help us gain access to trails, swampy areas or sites near utility poles.
“We've had incidents before where bodies have been found along the river, and naturally, it would have been much easier if we had a smaller vehicle to transport officers or equipment to a scene. We've had it for about two weeks now, though we haven't used it yet on a call.
“However, we have driven it in the snow around the perimeter of the station, and it worked well,” he added. “It has off-road tires, and that's a huge plus. It wasn't designed to drive on asphalt roads.”
Sullivan maintained the department discovered the possibility of receiving such a grant on April 26, 2010, and immediately developed a plan to attain it.
“One of the provisos for the Byrne Memorial JAG was we had to use the money for something we hadn't already budgeted for,” he noted. “I sat down with the Town Administrator (T. Joseph Almond) and let him know about the idea we were considering. He liked it very much, and viewed it as a worthwhile project.
“When we first started looking at the idea, we wrote in a grant application we would earmark the money for this vehicle,” he continued. “We initially were looking for a gas-powered vehicle. When the captain (Raymond Bousquet) and I went to the International Association of Chiefs of Police Convention in Orlando in October, we discovered a company named Xtreme Green Products, Inc. of Las Vegas, which specializes in developing 'all-green' (ATVs, UTVs and other motorized products).
“It's important to point out that it's entirely electric, so it's safe for the environment. If it was a critical need, we would've budgeted for it, so we're really excited to have it. I would also say it's extremely important to have because we've had incidents in the past at Chase Farm, etc., and it would've been very helpful to have something small like this. They weren't criminal-like incidents, but things such as simple enforcement of the leash law.
“You're limited as to where you can go, and — with this UTV — you have access to anywhere that's rural.”
The two-seat, red-and-black UTV features a five-kilowatt electric motor (with a state-of-the-art, 100-amp hour, 72-volt lithium ion battery system). It's about 9.5 feet long, with a wheelbase of 74.8 inches and a ground clearance of just over 10.5 inches. A standard with four-wheel drive, the UTV has an electric switch to allow a changeover to two-wheel drive for on-road use.
It also has a two-inch, heavy-duty ball hitch receiver; 12-volt headlights with both standard and high beams; complete police lighting, public-address and siren packages; directional signals, hazard lights and side mirrors; a key switch to turn on motor; forward and reverse shifting (via a lighted safety reverse shift button); and a chassis built with high-strength tubular steel.
The UTV — with front and rear all-wheel wishbone independent suspension and heavy-duty shock absorbers — can reach speeds of 25 mph, a climbing capacity of an approximate 30-degree grade and a built-in 110/220-volt charger with a range, between charges, of up to 75 miles.
Another plus: With virtually 90 percent less parts than a gas-powered product, it requires dramatically less servicing, as it costs less than a penny per mile to utilize.
Once the Town Council approved the purchase of the UTV, Sullivan contacted Xtreme Green Products, Inc. and ordered the Transport Pro UTV.
“It was available for use during these recent storms, though, fortunately, we didn't need it,” Sullivan said. “Let's put it this way: If we needed to get to a house out in the woods, and the driveway wasn't shoveled or cleared, this vehicle is perfect to reach someone who needs help. We're happy it's ours.”