With a brand-new SUV, ECPD to impose presence

by Beacon Staff • November 28, 2007

The department's new white 2008 Ford Escape Sport Utility Vehicle-customized with purple and gold graphics-will arrive by the beginning of winter break, ECPD officers said.

Deputy Chief Scott Bornstein said the two old police cruisers, a 1999 Dodge Caravan and a 2001 Chevrolet Impala, were traded in last week for the new SUV from MHQ Municipal Police Supply.,Christmas is coming early for the Emerson College Police Department.

The department's new white 2008 Ford Escape Sport Utility Vehicle-customized with purple and gold graphics-will arrive by the beginning of winter break, ECPD officers said.

Deputy Chief Scott Bornstein said the two old police cruisers, a 1999 Dodge Caravan and a 2001 Chevrolet Impala, were traded in last week for the new SUV from MHQ Municipal Police Supply. The new cruiser is equipped with strobe lights, blue lights, a siren and inter-department and city-wide radio communication.

The vehicle will primarily be a show of the ECPD's presence, and hopefully a crime deterrent, ECPD Chief George Noonan said. It will be empty at times but the cruiser will be parked in front of 80 Boylston St. as a symbol of security.

"Especially on the corner of Tremont and Boylston, if a person sees a vehicle, they'll get paranoid because an officer can't be far away," Noonan said. "It's almost like having another officer on the beat."

Emerson's police department was able to purchase the SUV for less than its estimated $20,000 retail price because of its membership in the Greater Boston Police Council, which has a collective purchasing program with MHQ Municipal Vehicles. The council's Web site lists the price of the Escape for council members as $18,215 without the purple and gold graphic art. Noonan estimates the decals cost the department an extra couple hundred dollars.

The council's purchasing program, which applies to Ford Public Service Vehicles like the one the department purchased, expired this month, but was renewed for 2008, according to the council's Web site. The membership allows ECPD to be connected to 120 Eastern Mass. police departments by radio in case of a widespread emergency or announcement, as well as providing its members discounts on municipal vehicles.

Junior Jenna Petty said she would have felt safer seeing a police cruiser in front of the Little Building when she lived there last year.

"After seeing someone [getting assaulted] at 2 a.m., I'm all gung-ho for it," the marketing communication major said.

"I just want to come down and be able to hang out. I think it will deter bums from hanging in front of the building trying to get money from college students."

Bornstein said the Escape is made specifically for police use with a siren, light bar and radio capability, and is therefore unlike those found on commercial lots. It will become ECPD's only police vehicle, after the department traded two older vehicles for one new cruiser.

"Emerson doesn't have the west campus anymore so when the school is 95 percent on one block the need for multiple vehicles is negated," Bornstein said.

It is the second vehicle the Public Safety Department has purchased this year. The first was the shuttle van that runs between the Little Building and the hotel dormitories.

Sophomore Chris Boutillier, co-president of the Emerson Democrats, said he requested a police escort to the hospital last year for his sick roommate but the only cruiser available at the time had broken down.

"The officer ended up just walking with us to the hospital," the political communication major said. "I also think its a great idea to protect students from people not associated with Emerson but as an intimidation tactic to students, I'd say it's a bit much."

Noonan said he put in a request for the new vehicle to the college administration because the older vehicles were at risk of breaking down during crisis situations. The older vehicles' engines were worn out from sitting idle while on patrol. Noonan said the new cruiser is equipped with a stronger engine made for municipal use.

"It's important that we have the right tools when we need them," Noonan said, "and to make sure when the time comes, we have a cruiser that's ready to go."