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Sen. Gaughran helps Muttontown Police fund new vehicles

Rikki Massand
Jericho Syosset News Journal

New York State Senator James Gaugran, who represents Long Island’s North Shore in Senatorial District 5, announced that he had secured $50,000 in in State funding for new police equipment for the Village of Muttontown. The funds will help pay for new a new police vehicle, a new Ford Explorer crossover powered by a hybrid engine.

“Today I‘m proud to announce that I secured $50,000 in vital State of New York funding for the Village of Muttontown to purchase a new police vehicle. Our first responders are at the forefront of protecting our communities and I’m proud to have been able to secure this vital funding. Muttontown is home to a number of historic landmarks, countless miles of hiking trails, and other treasured spots. This vehicle will ensure law enforcement can quickly and safely respond to issues throughout the community….Thank you Muttontown Mayor Liguori and Police Chief Eric Irizarry for your partnership, and to the Muttontown officers who selflessly serve our community each day,” Sen. Gaughran said.

Upon arrival at Muttontown’s Village Hall on Tuesday, Sen. Gaughran was greeted by Mayor Liguori, Deputy Village Clerk Katie Dugan, and from the Muttontown Police, Chief Irizarry, Police Sergeant Chris Ernst, Officer Brian Dervin and Officer Michael Ingargiola. All were wearing masks for the morning’s outdoor gathering and keeping a safe distance while discussing the new police vehicles and police coverage of the residential area plus Route 106 and busy Northern Boulevard.

The Muttontown Police Department covers more than 4,500 acres of primarily residential land, including treasured historical landmarks such as the Muttontown Preserve and the Benjamin Moore Estate.

“Muttontown is home to hundreds of miles of hiking and horse trails, infamous for gorgeous rolling hills, which necessitate appropriate police vehicles for swift response times,” State Sen. Gaughran said.

He explained the area’s terrain with a lot of hills and how snow can accumulate and roadways can be treacherous at times in inclement weather. The Senator and Muttontown Police discussed the daily and nightly experiences officers have out on the roads and in keeping the community safe.

Officers noted that in 2016 the department was last outfitted with new police cars, and Chief Irizarry said that an average lifespan for a police vehicle is roughly four years. “The department had not had any new police cars for four years so we definitely needed to start updating this fleet,” Irizarry said.

“There are well-known issues with many roads around the Town of Oyster Bay, and I have been speaking with Town Supervisor Joseph Saladino about funding from the state-level and trying to get more New York CHIPS (Consolidated Local Highway and Street Improvement Program) funding,” Sen. Gaughran said.

Sergeant Ernst commented on the utility and versatility of the new Explorers, and he noted that the 2020 model is the first of the new vehicles in the fleet as the 2021 model year Police Department Explorer will be in production by October 12. The newer vehicles run much more environmentally-friendly than the previous police models in use, and they are versatile crossover SUVs.

“The hybrid engines the Explorers have are great, gas-wise — this engine is new with part-electric and part-gas operation. Hybrids are much more suitable for police work too because while idling the cars are not sitting out burning gas. Our officers need to stand-by doing their traffic enforcement on frequently-traveled routes and local roads. These engines will be kicked into electric mode all during that use. There are no emissions while the officer is stopped on the road, and this is a big plus of the hybrid. We are blessed and happy to get this kind of vehicle,” he said.

Mutton Police use the “single patrol” standard as only one officer is in each of the police vehicles during shifts, Sergeant Ernst explained.

Up until three weeks ago, when the 2020 Explorer arrived, the fleet consisted of Chevy Tahoe large SUVs which tend to be too large, heavy, and not fuel efficient, as well as Dodge Chargers which are plenty fast and smooth but not equipped to handle snow or ice, as primarily a a rear-wheel-drive sport sedan. The officers noted that Dodge Chargers have an excellent HEMI engine but they too burn a lot of fuel.

The Muttontown Police noted that the Explorer is outfitted with all law enforcement computer accessories and speed enforcement technology, plus its sirens and much more efficient new LED police lighting systems than previous police vehicles have had. “The police vehicles need to be very visible on the road and the new LED technology is so much more efficient and visible than the regular light bulbs were,” Ernst said.

The 2020 Explorer model on display at Muttontown Village Hall Tuesday was delivered three weeks ago and was in Ford Motor Company’s first line of production for this new model. Ernst said there was a one-year waiting list for this model, and the department was fortunate that with its newer models there will be a much shorter turnaround time.

According to Chief Irizarry the 2021 models ordered by the Muttontown Police would be in production in October and should be received six weeks after they are built. He says the 2021 Explorers will be delivered to the village by late November or the first week of December.

Irizarry said the department is working on a grant application to outfit these Explorers with the law enforcement computer systems, state data tracking software (used for accident reports and traffic ticketing).

“There is a grant available now which we can get all the new vehicles, plus older ones can be upgraded, with new systems and computers plus printers and scanners,” Chief Irizarry said. He along with Sergeant Ernst and Officer Ingargiola all commented that police vehicles undergo heavy use and wear and tear accumulates quickly.

“The engines are on 24/7 — every single day — a year of police work use is equivalent to maybe 10 or 12 years of owning a normal vehicle. And for us the Tahoe was great in snow or inclement but not so efficient in summers, sometimes they are too big and lugging. And the Charger doesn’t push uphill as well in winter as it’s a sedan, rear-wheel drive in winter on Long Island is difficult….the Ford Explorer, as a crossover-base vehicle, performs well and can do a lot of everything well. We can use Explorers 12 months of the year as opposed to mainly just in fair weather for the Chargers. These end up being a lot more reasonable for the kind of work we do,” the chief explained.