G-town buys assault-style weapons for police

GERMANTOWN—The Town Board has unanimously approved the purchase of two Bushmaster Patrol Rifles for the Police Department. These rifles were described at Monday’s Town Board meeting as “AR-15 style” rifles. An AR-15 is a lightweight, magazine-fed, semiautomatic rifle, according to online sources.

Supervisor Roy Brown was at another meeting Monday and was not present for the vote, but he said Wednesday that he would have voted for the purchase. The Police Department has been asking for an upgrade “for years,” he said. They currently carry two shotguns when on patrol, locked in the trunk of the patrol car, in addition to pistols on their persons.

 

Germantown’s five part-time police officers will be trained by the Sheriff’s Office in the use of the new rifles, said Mr. Brown, and will not carry them until the Sheriff’s Office has signed off on their training. Cost of the rifles is $754 each.

Councilwoman Joan Snyder also expressed no hesitation in voting for the new rifles. “They’re a very good Police Department,” she said. “I’m very proud of them. If they need this, they need it.”

The other three board members, despite expressing support for the police department, had reservations about upgrading to semiautomatic rifles.
“I was leaning toward a No vote,” said Michael Mortenson. “But with recent things that have happened, reported in the news, I think it’s important that our police can be ready for what’s out there.”

Joel Craig said that he, too, “had concerns. I had a long talk with officer-in-charge Brian DuBois about how the rifles would be used, how officers would be trained, policies updated.” After the events in Newtown, CT, and Watertown, MA, he said, “I would hate to have our officers not prepared. After much discussion and soul searching I will vote yes,” he said.

Donald Westmore said he was “appalled at the explosion of increasingly large weapons—it’s like swatting a fly with a hammer. We need to think as a nation about how we deal with these issues. An AR-15,” he noted, “would have been no use after the explosion at the Boston Marathon. But,” he concluded, “I don’t want to leave our guys hanging. First responders need to be protected.”

Earlier in the meeting, Police Commissioner Roger Rekow made his monthly report to the board. In March, he said, the officers had issued 23 traffic tickets, 30 warnings, one parking violation, one DWI and one AUO (aggravated unauthorized operation of a vehicle). They had investigated one criminal mischief and one grand larceny from a patio and served court papers once. They also regularly patrol the town’s parks and the Germantown Central School.

About half of the traffic tickets are issued on Route 9G, Mr. Rekow said, in answer to Mr. Westmore’s question. “Warnings,” he replied to Ms. Snyder, were just that, regarding traffic infractions. “You’ve never rolled through a stop sign?” he quipped. “Neither have I.”

The board concluded the meeting with an executive session “for attorney-client matters leading to the discipline, suspension, dismissal or removal of a particular person from the Town of Germantown” staff. Returning to public session, the board took no action regarding that matter.
Board members did, however, discuss swimming in the town’s lake, said Mr. Brown, and decided to cancel all swimming for one year. Without swimming, “all the issues” of the lake can be treated more aggressively, he said, not only invasive plants but also the inlet, the outlet and other maintenance. Mr. Brown is researching other swimming lesson options for the town’s children.

In other business, the board:
•Learned that the April 4 roadside cleanup conducted by the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and 4H Club had collected just under 500 pounds of road litter and garbage
•Learned that the April 20 Riversweep cleanup had collected just under 1,000 pounds of trash, not including the tires and metal
•Approved the purchase of an augur and hitch for the Maintenance Department for a total cost of $1,497
•Learned that the Parks Commission April 5 sub sale earned almost $1,000 for the town parks
•Learned that state Senator Kathy Marchione had helped Columbia County get additional state CHIPS funds for 10-year road projects. Germantown received $10,353 of the new funds to add to the $46,507 it already had.
•Announced that the Planning Board and the Zoning Board of Appeals still have one vacancy each, and the Ethics Board has three vacancies. Those interested should call 518 537-6687 ext. 310.
•Learned from Councilman Westmore that he has been talking to townspeople about ways to improve waterfront facilities to make Germantown a “kayak- and canoe-friendly town. Several people in Germantown have been thinking about this,” he said. “We have the human resources to get it done.”
In September the annual Hudson River Valley Ramble takes place over four weekends, and Mr. Westmore’s goal is to have Germantown host an event, which would bring people into town and “put us on the map. Stay tuned and get involved,” he added, by checking the town’s website, germantownny.org, or contacting him.

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