If Union City residents happen to notice in the coming week that a few of the city's police cruisers look extra clean, it is not because the city has appointed people to wash and wax the cars.
It's because Union City has procured three brand-new cruisers.
And if Union City residents hear a siren but don't see those cruisers in the area, they should instead expect to see one of the two brand new Harley-Davidson Police Special motorcycles coming out of an alley or side street.
At a press conference last week, Union City Mayor Brian Stack, Commissioner Christopher Irizarry, Captain Joe Blaettler and various police officers unveiled the new vehicles to the public. In all, six vehicles were introduced.
Also included in the stable of new vehicles was Union City's first Emergency Services Unit, or "ESU."
The motorcycles have a price tag of more than $15,000 each and were paid for, according to city officials, with a Local Law Enforcement Block Grant. Equipment included with the cycles was a trailer to transport them and special helmets. Each motorcycle has the name of the officer assigned to it painted on it and is outfitted with specialized police equipment, including a siren, strobe lights, a PA system, a police radio, and carrying cases for various pieces of rescue equipment. Basically, the bikes have everything a police car does - except a roof.
According to Union City Mayor Brian Stack, the motorcycles will provide more than just an effective mode of apprehending criminals. "What these motorcycles give us is a presence," said the mayor last week. "They give a definite benefit to the city."
The motorcycles, according to Union City Police Department Patrol Commander Captain Joe Blaettler, are already in service and can be seen on Union City's streets throughout the day. The bikes are piloted by Police Officers Ray Smith and Terrence "Terry" Gordon. Gordon and Smith are the only officers who will ride the bikes, and though the machines do not technically belong to the officers, the bikes will be treated as such. Both Smith and Gordon own personal Harley-Davidsons and are more than ready to handle whatever the motorcycles may throw at them.
According to Union City Police Department Fleet Director Jose Guiterrez, the motorcycles are under warranty, so should anything go wrong with them, they will be returned to Legends Harley-Davidson in Clifton (where they were bought) for repairs.
Said Guiterrez, "The officers know how to work on the bikes, though."
Union City Mayor Brian Stack appeared to be having a lot of fun sitting on the bike, revving the engine and sounding the siren. The mayor joked that the PA system on the motorcycle would make an effective campaign tool for his upcoming state Assembly bid.
New police cars
Police cars take a pounding. The cars are run almost 24 hours a day and driven much harder than a normal everyday vehicle.
As such, they need to be replaced often. To that end, the Union City Police, in an effort to keep their fleet of police vehicles as new as possible, have purchased three new 2003 Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptors. Each car is valued, according to city officials, at approximately $30,000. The cars were paid for with funds from the city budget for police vehicles.
Said Union City Mayor Brian Stack, "This puts the Union City Police Department where it should be. Since I was elected three years ago, I have been trying to bring Union City back to where it should be in all aspects. I feel that this is the best department in Hudson County, if not the state."
Stack thanked State Sen. Bernard Kenny (D-Hoboken) for "fighting for Union City" in his effort to bring funds from the state to Union City.
Two of the cars are outfitted with light bars on the roof and strobe lights mounted in the sideview mirrors, on the push bar, and on the rear deck. The cars also feature strobe lights mounted in the headlights and taillights.
The third car is identical to the other two except for the conspicuous absence of a roof-mounted light bar. This is intended to provide a "stealth" capability for the department.
Emergency services unit
The ESU is a vehicle that is intended to respond to just about any situation that may occur in the area. The vehicle contains tactical equipment, repelling gear, special lighting equipment, first responder equipment (five defibrillators, bag valve masks, etc), extrication equipment (Jaws of Life, Hurst Tools, airbags to lift cars), an onboard generator, and biochemical suits.
Union City Police Captain Joe Blaettler was a driving force behind the procurement of the $76,000 vehicle. Blaettler said last week that the truck should begin to see service in January and specially-chosen officers will eventually man the vehicle.
Said Blaettler, "Officers will be trained in three phases: dealing with barricaded suspects and hostage situations, handling emotionally disturbed individuals, and handling violent animals. Everyone involved in the ESU program will be re-certified in CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation), the use of defibrillators as well as heavy rescue techniques. We also have a couple of officers who have taken it upon themselves to enter sniper school."
The vehicle was bought with a Statewide Local Domestic Preparedness Equipment grant.
Said Blaettler, "It's great to get this equipment. It's great for the department, but it's also great for the community."