To start off the Town Council Meeting on August 14, members from Londonderry’s Police Department (LPD) made two presentations under the public comment section of the meeting. The first was a grant presentation made by Lt. Patrick Cheetham and Sgt. Scott Balukonis, who recently celebrated his 15th year at the LPD, and the second was an update on the recent national carbon monoxide concerns in police vehicles.
The OHRV Patrol Program has been in place for 10 to 12 years, according to Sgt. Balukonis, and for the last decade, the LPD has received grants from New Hampshire Fish and Game to continue the program. This year, they received a grant for $1,080 and approached the council to ask if they could accept it, as is procedure.
The OHRV Patrol Program allows officers to patrol areas traditional police vehicles would be unable to traverse, such as nature trails, woods, and undeveloped land. It is important to patrol these areas, according to Balukonis, because they can be areas with a lot of activity and people “up to no good.”
He gave some examples: with the development of the Rail Trail, there have been increased sightings of vandalism and graffiti. Adam’s Pond trail is another that is on the department’s radar. Acceptance of the grant will allow them to continue to patrol these areas and have a greater ability to monitor the areas where illegal activity is likely to happen.
The council accepted the grant unanimously.
Chief of Police William Hart then updated the council on the carbon monoxide concern in police cruisers and what the possible impact could be to the LPD. The national concern became more localized in the beginning of August when a Massachusetts Police Officer was hospitalized after a car accident resulting from exposure to carbon monoxide.
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, carbon monoxide exposure becomes dangerous after prolonged exposure to levels over 15 parts per million. Since officers can sit in their cruisers for extended periods of time, they are at risk should the vehicle they are using have any issues.
Chief Hart produced a letter detailing the steps the LPD has taken to ensure their officers are safe while patrolling. Master Patrolman (MP) Shaun Goodnow manages the police vehicle fleet and has been in contact with Ford of Londonderry, the dealership that supplies the vehicles, and Adamson Industries, the company that converts the vehicles into patrol cars; he has worked closely with them to monitor this issue.
According to the letter, it has “unofficially been determined that this issue is being caused by unsealed wiring along the floor” of the vehicles. While Ford continues a national investigation, MP Goodnow has, and will continue to monitor the situation. So far, all of the Londonderry Police Interceptor Explorers have been inspected to make sure the added wiring and holes have been sealed properly, equipped with a carbon monoxide alarm located in the front cabin area, and equipped with two carbon monoxide detectors obtained from the Londonderry Fire Department.
An email was also sent out to all department employees explaining the risk of carbon monoxide and what to do if someone experiences its effects while operating the patrol vehicles.
Chief Hart said this is a great example of how “Londonderry leads the way” in terms of the thorough job the LPD does regarding these issues.
The letter ends, stating that “safety is our top priority and we will continue to make sure, to the best of our ability, that the vehicles of the Londonderry Police Department are checked, on a daily basis, to ensure that they are free from safety/mechanical issues.”