FARMINGTON — A federal grant could help the Farmington Police Department replace a patrol SUV lost in an accident last fiscal year and purchase an electronic vehicle that officials say will help the department more effectively patrol the city's river trail system.
The $66,521 Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant will be split between the police department and the San Juan County Sheriff's Office. The department will receive $45,129. The sheriff's office will receive $21,122.
The Farmington City Council will vote on a memorandum of understanding with San Juan County at their work session this morning. The vote is necessary for the distribution of the funds once they are available.Mayor Tommy Roberts said the grant money and the purchases will help give more flexibility to the police department.
"Federal grant monies are extremely important to our law enforcement agencies," he said. "They help to compliment and supplement our operations. We've been using those grant monies for many years. They are definitely a viable resource."
The annual grant is designed to supplement needs in local law enforcement agencies' budgets, said Capt. Keith McPheeters, Farmington Police Department.
"Frankly speaking, last year was a tough year," he said.
The department plans to use its share of the grant to buy a Ford Explorer Police Interceptor SUV and a T3 Patroller, an electric vehicle manufactured by T3 Motion Inc.
The department lost two patrol vehicles and a motorcycle in accidents during fiscal year 2013, which ended on June 30, McPheeters said.
The officers were not found to be at-fault in the accidents, but the insurance payout on all three was not enough to cover the costs associated with vehicle replacement, according to a report included with Tuesday's agenda.
"There was a $34,000 insurance payout," McPheeters said. "That's not enough to replace even one patrol vehicle."
Keeping the city's parks safe is a department priority, he said, and the T3 will help the department patrol the city's river trails and park areas.
"It's bigger than a Segway and has three wheels," McPheeters said. "It's perfect for patrolling that wooded area. It's a vast area to patrol."