The Saugerties police have converted a used ambulance from the Hurley First Aid Squad into a vehicle for its Special Investigations Unit, using a $10,000 grant obtained through state senator George Amedore.
The new vehicle replaces a food truck the police department borrowed from the school district for transporting equipment to a major crime scene. “This is the type of vehicle we could have used when we investigated the murders earlier this year,” says police chief Joseph Sinagra, recently displaying the vehicle.
The grant from Amedore’s share of a discretionary fund state legislators receive enabled the police to purchase the vehicle for $4000. Saugerties-based Ward Backhaus Collision did the painting and some work inside. First Sign in Kingston did the lettering on the vehicle.
The grant also paid for some of the equipment for the vehicle. “We were able to do this at no cost to the [local] taxpayers,” Sinagra added.
“A vehicle like this adds to the police department’s capabilities at no cost to the town,” added Fred Costello, town council liaison to the police department. “It’s important for our residents that we have a police department on the cutting edge … and it’s extraordinary the way the chief gets these grants that helps up get equipment.”
Sinagra said the grant money also paid for new tires for the truck.
The police chief envisioned using the truck for police investigators who had to work out in the cold on a crime to warm up for a bit. But the vehicle has morphed into something more. It’s outfitted with communications systems that will allow it to communicate from a crime scene with all the organizations that might be needed, such as the state police and the sheriff’s department.
“The sheriff’s office has a mobile command center that Saugerties police and others throughout the county use at big events, such as the Garlic Festival,” Sinagra noted. “It’s also used at large incidents such as when the hurricanes hit Ulster County.”
But the vehicle and can’t be everywhere at the same time. Saugerties will now have its own vehicle. In addition to a radio system, it also carries all the equipment needed for an investigation, such as photography, fingerprinting, and ballistic shields to protect officers from gunfire.
“It’s just another resource for the department,” Sinagra said. “For instance, at the end of election night, we pick up the ballot boxes in Saugerties and transport them to the county board of elections. It usually takes a couple of police cars to do that, but with this vehicle we can fit them all inside.”
Sinagra is a proponent of grants such as the one which paid for the rehabilitated vehicle. “The people of Saugerties pay a lot of taxes to the state,” he said, “and if we can get some of that money back through a grant, then that’s good for the people of Saugerties.”