You may have seen the Westport Police Department’s latest vehicle: a Hummer H2.
You may also have wondered why the !@#$%^&* our cops spent $50,000 or so on a vehicle whose incredible overuse of metal and plastic is surpassed in environmental grossness only by its spectacularly inefficient gas mileage.
They didn’t pay a penny for it. It’s a gift — sort of — from a Westport white-collar criminal.
Two years ago, our neighbor was charged with big-time embezzlement. His 2006 Hummer — with less than 2,000 miles — was part of his seized assets.
It sat for 18 months at a Secret Service facility in New Jersey. Captain Foti Koskinas and detective Phil Restieri worked relentlessly to receive the vehicle, as partial restitution for the time the Westport Police spent on the case.
A few weeks ago, the car was released to the cops. It looked pretty cool, but to make it a real police vehicle it needed work.
Whelen — a Connecticut-based company that outfits cop cars — donated all the lighting equipment. (The Town of Westport was one of the firm’s 1st accounts, back when it began.)
Fleet Auto donated the labor to install lighting and sirens.
The Hummer is used as a DARE vehicle. Fifth graders ogle the vehicle; it breaks the ice as officer Ned Batlin builds relationships with kids — and they learn (as the embezzler did) that crime doesn’t pay.
The Police Department is well aware that although the Hummer did not cost taxpayers a dime, gas does. It will be used primarily for DARE events; you won’t see it cruising up and down the Post Road, or chasing bad guys along the back streets of town.
So why don’t we just sell the gas guzzler, and pocket the profits?
The government’s asset forfeiture rules mandate the vehicle be kept for at least 2 years.
Perhaps by then our cops will have seized a Hummer H3 — you know, the hybrid that gets 100 miles per gallon.