Hendricks County Flyer
---- — BROWNSBURG — The town council here passed the 2014 budget after some discussion and removal of a specific line item.
The line item in question was for the purchase of an Armored Personnel Carrier (APC) to be purchased for the Brownsburg Police Department.
Before the budget could be passed, council president Gary Hood gave his thoughts on the vehicle, which would account for $170,000 of the $40 million town budget.
“I will share with everybody, that I was opposed to this vehicle,” Hood said. “I was quite opposed to this vehicle, when I started into this process. I think the challenge is the fact that Brownsburg is supporting a lot of other areas through our mutual aid. I really believe that this is asking the Brownsburg taxpayers to again carry a cost that will get used on a broader basis within the county and yet the Brownsburg taxpayers are paying for it. I am also concerned that it’s a vehicle that’s only going to be used a few times a year.”
He added that he’s had many conversations with Brownsburg Police Chief Michael Dove regarding the vehicle.
“Chief (Dove) has shared with me that our number of ERT (Emergency Response Team) callouts has gone up over the course of the years,” Hood said. “It started out, I believe, Chief (Dove) was saying it was at two or three and you get up to possibly six or seven. You have to recognize while it would get used, potentially in those situations, you’ve also got an asset that you’ve, in essence, invested the town taxpayers’ money in that’s sitting 350-plus days of the year without really doing anything.”
Hood said he’s also worried about the perceptions the vehicle might cause.
“I am very concerned about the impression that it puts forth that we live in a community that requires armored vehicles in order to be able to provide protection to the town,” he said.
Hood said Dove explained to him how the vehicle would prove to be an asset.
“What Chief Dove shared with me was also very, very significant,” Hood said. “This is a defensive vehicle, not an offensive vehicle. It is not a tank. It is truly to protect the officers; it is for the safety of those officers. I think one of the best examples that he provided to me that makes sense is if you had a situation where an officer was injured and is out in an area where he or she is exposed, this vehicle would provide a means to be able to potentially go in and retrieve that officer without putting others in harm’s way.”
Based on those discussions, Hood said his apprehensions may subside by next year, especially if the police department comes back with more information and possibly looks into sharing the cost with neighboring municipalities.
“The chief did, in fact, help to change my opinion,” he said. “I am not as opposed as I was. However, I am not going to support the vehicle for the 2014 budget. I want to make it very, very clear that I am not ruling this out for the future. In fact I will tell you, I would really like to see this come back again in the 2015 budget.”
With that, Hood made a motion to amend Ordinance No. 28-2013 and remove the armored vehicle from the budget.
After a somewhat lengthy pause, the motion was seconded by Councilman Rob Kendall.
During the discussion portion, Councilman Don Spencer, who serves as liaison to the police commission, voiced his opinion on why he felt the vehicle was necessary.
Spencer cited information Dove had shared with him about a small town in Colorado that utilizes a similar vehicle because of a transient population that periodically descends upon the town, due to a concert venue.
Spencer likened that situation to the Brownsburg population influx during race season because of the track.
He also said it’s a proactive approach to problems that may arise.
“It’s an insurance policy,” Spencer said. “There are things that we buy as a public that we don’ really utilize or we never expect to utilize. Insurance is the one that, obviously, glaringly steps out. We all buy insurance and we hope we never have to use it.”
He listed other examples such as immunizations, smoke detectors, or even backup generators at hospitals as things people buy and hope they never have to use, but if they do, they’re glad they have them.
Spencer then asked that his fellow council members defeat the amendment.
“I appreciate Mr. Hood’s suggestion that this come back before us, (but) I think it’s time that this community recognize the need to spend some money on public safety,” he said. “ … If we’re going to put ourselves on the map, ladies and gentleman, we have to be able to protect ourselves. This is about protecting these guys in the room (members of the police force who were on hand). I want to be able to say we were the first in Hendricks County to recognize this and request it and afford it and be proud of the fact that we afforded it. I want to be proactive.”
Hood called for a vote, which fell 3-2, with Spencer and Councilman Dave Richardson opposing, to uphold the amendment.
The motion was then made to pass the amended budget ordinance, which passed 4-1, with Spencer opposing.