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Town of Tonawanda police to upgrade fleet

The Town of Tonawanda Police Department is making some upgrades to its fleet of vehicles.

At Monday night’s meeting, the Town Board agreed to call for bids on a mobile unit that will aid detectives at crime scenes and accident investigators at crash sites.

“We’ve become so advanced in our crime scene and accident investigation that the time has come to have a vehicle that will serve both of those units,” Police Chief Anthony J. Palombo said after the meeting.

Currently, detectives and accident investigators load their equipment at the station into patrol cars before heading to a scene. The new vehicle, which resembles a box truck, will carry that evidence collection equipment, including cameras, portable spotlights and computer stations.

“It’s going to make us more efficient,” Palombo said. “We’re going to get out there and take care of business in a lot shorter time than we are now.”

The October incident in which a man named Joe Hollywood was thought to be armed and set fire to his home highlighted the need for such a vehicle, Palombo told the board.

The purchase will be paid for from the department’s asset forfeiture funds seized from criminal activity, Palombo said. He estimated the cost at between $90,000 and $100,000 and hopes to take delivery of the vehicle by the end of the year.

“We’ve been saving for a number of years to do this project,” he said.

The Town Board also agreed to call for bids on a new 2014 Chevrolet Tahoe for “Tank,” the town police’s K-9 dog.

“He has a Crown Vic now and we’re going to move him up to an SUV,” Palombo said.

And the Board also approved the purchase of five 2014 Chevrolet Caprice patrol cars from Paddock Chevrolet, which submitted the lowest bid.

The vehicles will cost $91,288 after a $61,000 discount for trade-ins.

The department typically replaces between four and six of its 14 patrol cars every year depending on mileage and condition, Palombo said.

“We’ll only replace them when we need to,” he said.