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Sergeant Sharpens Pencil To Seek Police Grants



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Sergeant Sharpens Pencil To Seek Police Grants

By Andrew Gorosko

According to Police Chief Michael Kehoe, Sergeant Christopher Vanghele may be one of the most popular men at the police station due to his ability to create overtime pay for police officers.

It is Sgt Vanghele, with pencil and calculator in hand, who performs the arcane computations that are required on the application forms when police seek state and federal grants.

When received, those grants translate into police overtime hours for the officers participating in various law enforcement projects such as sobriety checkpoints, roving sobriety patrols, commercial truck inspections, and passenger car inspections.

If a police officer makes $25 an hour, the overtime pay is $37.50 hourly; those who make $30 hourly receive overtime pay of $45 per hour; and so forth.

Chief Kehoe said town police use the grant money to provide services to the public, while saving town property taxpayers the cost of those services.

“If there’s [grant] money available out there, we’ll try for it,” the police chief said.

Sgt Vanghele said he has been applying for police grants since 1999, when he was promoted to the rank of sergeant. He has been a member of the police department since 1993.

Grant money covers the majority of costs in those programs to which grant money is applied. Since 1999, grant money has covered about $623,000 of the $963,000 cost of programs in which grants were used, the sergeant said.

In the 18 grant-funded projects conducted since 1999 intended to get drunken drivers off the road, police charged 72 people with driving under the influence, Sgt Vanghele said. Besides those drunken driving arrests, police lodged 577 seatbelt violations, a dozen drug violations, plus more than 1,650 miscellaneous offenses, he said. As part of that effort, police conducted 17 sobriety checkpoints. At one checkpoint held on Hawleyville Road in December 2001, six motorists were charged with drunken driving.

At nine grant-funded commercial truck violation enforcement projects since 2001, conducted jointly by state police and town police, police issued 169 tickets for a total of $96,906 in violations, Sgt Vanghele said. In one case, a trucker with an especially faulty truck received a ticket for $2,750 in fines, he said.

At three grant-funded passenger vehicle enforcement projects conducted jointly by the state Department of Motor Vehicles and the town in 2002, police issued 123 violations, resulting in $6,186 in fines, he added.


Equipment Purchases

Besides special law enforcement projects , police use grant money to buy equipment, Sgt Vanghele said.

Purchases have included a speed display board, a mobile video recording system, a measuring wheel, radar units, sobriety checkpoint signs, strobe lights, an intoximeter, computers, a speed display trailer, flashlights, a spotlight, a fully-equipped police car for DUI enforcement, high-visibility safety vests, and tint meters. Police use tint meters to measure whether auto windshields are tinted darker than the law allows.

Police also have received grants that partially cover the salaries of new police officers for a specified time, in order to increase the police department’s roster. The police department now has 43 officers.

Sgt Vanghele lists “attention to detail” as an important aspect of successful grant applications, displaying two tall stacks of file folders, representing the paperwork that is involved in obtaining grant money.

“You try to be [accurate] to the penny,” he said of the need for precision in filling out grant application forms.

“I hate to think there’s [grant], money out there that I’m not getting,” he said.

A long-term police goal is acquiring grant money to be used toward building a new police station, the sergeant said.

A new police station with improved facilities is needed to better serve the needs of a growing community, he said.   

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