Police getting new K-9 cruiser

Cary Ashby • Sep 27, 2019 at 3:00 PM

The Norwalk Police Department canine handler and K-9 Joker soon will have a new set of wheels.

City council approved legislation for the $53,000 donated cruiser Tuesday. Finance director Michelle Reeder told council members the money doesn’t come from the general fund and will go into a fund set up for the donations, which mostly came from the American Legion.

The new Ford Interceptor will replace a 2011 Ford Crown Victoria. The civilian version of the Interceptor is the Ford Explorer.

Chief Mike Conney, after the meeting, said two-thirds of the space in the cruiser will be dedicated to Joker, with another third for a suspect.

“That’s a definite benefit for it. … As it stands now, you can’t transfer a prisoner,” he added, noting that meant if the canine unit made an arrest, another cruiser had to be used.

Also, Conney said the air conditioning will be pumped directly into the compartment for the dog and the Interceptor “will be dedicated to one person,” officer Tim Skinner. The chief noted that vehicles generally tend to receive better care when it’s one officer’s responsibility.

In addition, Conney informed council Tuesday that the police department received an about $8,600 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice, which will be used to purchase 11 to 12 pieces of body armor.

Safety-service director Ellen Heinz told council that nine of the 10 tornado sirens are working and her primary recommendation will be to buy a new one for Veterans Memorial Lake Park (aka the reservoir). Because “the other sirens are very old,” she said she wants the city to discuss the placement of the others and if any of them need to be moved. City officials have estimated the tornado siren system has been in place since the late 1980s or early 1990s.

Councilman Jordy Horowitz asked what a new siren costs. Heinz said she spoke to two venders who reported each one costs about $25,000. She also said learned a siren recently cost nearly $40,000 for an area community, but the added cost was due to the fact there was no electricity going to the area where it was placed.

The issue of the effectiveness of the current sirens came to council members’ attention in late March. At that point, two of the 10 were fully functioning. After a series of monthly tests and expert evaluations, five sirens were working about mid-May.