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Saybrook Police Cars Repainted—with No Tax Dollars

A repainting of the town's formerly white-painted police cars with reflective black and white paint is a change that Police Chief Michael Spera hopes the public notices. That's because when the police are noticed around town both night and day, their presence alone can deter crime.

The timing for the repainting was driven by necessity. A defect in some of the Ford police cars' white paint caused the paint to flake. Why not design a new paint scheme for department vehicles that would also increase their visibility in the community, especially at night?

The team of Chief Spera, Sgt. Kevin Roche, and Sgt. Jay Rankin decided to return to a more traditional black and white design that, when metallic and reflective paints were used, would make the vehicles more visible than the current cars. At the same time, the team wanted a new logo that would show its pride in the community. It worked with Computer Signs to make a design that includes a lighthouse, rocks, and water.

The first six police vehicles were repainted without using any tax dollars, according to Chief Spera. The new paint instead was paid for by funds from several sources: rebates from the Ford Motor Company for the defective paint job; a donation from Saybrook Ford; a $2,000 donation from Walmart; funds from insurance settlements from cars damaged by bumps and dings; and revenue from a police fund maintained by the town treasurer that has as its source revenue the town's share of fines paid by violators for legal infractions.

Previously, the traffic fines fund revenues have been used to buy equipment or pay for extra patrol time for specific needs. Examples include the purchase of equipment for traffic safety like cones, scene lights, or barricades; paying personnel time to support extra DUI roadblocks; paying to deploy extra vehicles for traffic enforcement at times like holidays; and paying to buy bike helmets for kids. Spera said the annual average in the fund is about $10,000.

"We're not out to get money for the fund; we just get a check from the state and we're putting good use to monies from fines paid by people who've made a poor choice," explained Chief Spera.

In addition to the new logo painted on each car, Spera said the police vehicles will also have one of three proactive safety messages, including "Share the Road Safely" or "Buckle Up for Safety."

"The first [vehicle] repainting was donated by Saybrook Ford. They also paid the design and set-up charges for the new striping," said Spera.

To date, about six police department vehicles have been repainted.

Currently, the department has 17 vehicles, 16 with working odometers; five of these vehicles carry more than 100,000 miles of travel. As older vehicles are replaced, the new replacement cars will get the new paint job.

"With the new uniforms the department bought and with the re-striping and repainting of town police cars, we will be seen [in the community] and I get the omnipresence of police patrolmen that I need for prevention," said Spera.

Both the new police uniforms, purchased last year from donated funds, and the police vehicles' new paint jobs, paid for with funds from rebates, donations, and the town's share of fines paid for legal infractions, use reflective materials and paint to improve the visibility of patrolmen and police vehicles, especially at night.

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