BREWER, Maine — A new car for detectives and an undercover vehicle for the drug unit soon will join four other new vehicles at the Police Department thanks to forfeited assets taken from a recent drug case, city leaders learned last week.
City councilors heard at their June 1 meeting that the Police Department is getting four new vehicles and cameras for its cruisers, paid for with funds seized as a result of federal criminal cases that have been successfully prosecuted, Police Chief Perry Antone told councilors.
The two new vehicles were added to the list of recent purchases when councilors approved spending $82,000 of the forfeited funds at a special meeting on June 11.
“They are using the money to upgrade the nonpatrol fleet,” City Manager Steve Bost said Tuesday.
Councilors at the June 11 meeting also approved allocating up to $172,000 “for the salary and benefits of an officer to replace an officer assigned to the Federal Drug Enforcement Task Force for a three-year period,” the order states.
Before the six new vehicles were purchased, there was an estimated $550,000 in Brewer’s forfeiture account, Antone said at the June 1 meeting.
The Police Department has ordered a command vehicle to replace an old Chevrolet truck that was used. A new undercover task force vehicle and two SUVs, one for detectives and the other designed for the canine unit, also were purchased. These four new vehicles and the cameras will reduce the fund by about $200,000.
The on board cameras, which are designed to activate when a cruiser’s lights are turned on, will be installed on the department’s six cruisers and in the new K-9 officer’s vehicle.
The City Council created its asset forfeiture-seizure reserve account in April 2004, and over the years the funds have been used to purchase new guns, protective vests and other small items. The department is restricted in how the seized funds may be spent, the police chief has said, saying they can be used for training, motor vehicle equipment or safety enhancements.
“I think it’s a great use of the money,” Bost said. “They deserve it. They worked hard for it.”
As part of the June 11 City Council order, two vehicles — a 2004 Ford Taurus and a 2003 Ford Crown Victoria — will be sold as surplus.