Council approves new police cars, cancels live-streaming at ice rink

Council approves new police cars, cancels live-streaming at ice rink

Members vote 3-2 to appoint new Planning Board member

SMITHFIELD – The Smithfield Town Council on Tuesday authorized Chief Richard St. Sauveur Jr. to purchase four new police vehicles with a combined value of $158,400.

The three cruisers and one pickup truck will be purchased through the Rhode Island master price agreement.

The purchase includes three “new/leftover” 2017 Ford SUVs from Colonial Ford through the Greater Boston Police Council bid, at a cost of $89,503. A 2018 Ford F250 pickup truck with an 8-foot Fisher plow from Tasca Ford was approved to be purchased for $31,325 through the Rhode Island master price agreement.

The three SUVs replace:

• A 2009 Crown Victoria with 115,605 miles, a bad transmission and burning oil;

• A 2009 Crown Victoria with 125,648 miles, a leaking head gasket and a bad steering shaft;

• And a 2008 Crown Victoria with 137,500 miles and rotted floor boards, which won’t pass inspection.

The Ford F250 replaces an existing F250 that is no longer registered or inspected and suffers from excessive body rot. The existing plow is also significantly damaged from years of use.

The three SUVs will require emergency lighting, sirens and prisoner cage and equipment systems. Combined “up-fits” totaling another $37,652 were also approved Tuesday.

St. Sauveur said the purchases will be funded through the police capital fund, repaid over a three-year period.

Council President Paul Santucci asked if there is any way the three cruisers might still be used for traffic details, but St. Sauveur said the two vehicles the department is already using are in better condition.

The three vehicles being replaced could fetch between $1,000 and $2,000 on a website used to sell old government vehicles, he said.

St. Sauveur said he looked into buying used vehicles, but quickly learned that it would be a “poor financial move” based on the cost of the vehicles.

The police capital fund is made up of fines and fees collected by the police department, noted Town Manager Randy Rossi. These aren’t tax dollars being used for the vehicles, he emphasized.

The chief said there’s no concrete plan for when the department buys new vehicles, and purchases are made as needs arise. Ideally the department has “31 vehicles suitable for full-time law enforcement,” he said. It’s important to have reliable vehicles on the road, he said.

Also Tuesday, the council rescinded authorization for the use of the LiveBarn Video Streaming System at the Smithfield Municipal Ice Rink. Councilor Suzy Alba asked if the town would consider the live stream at a later date, and Rossi said it’s a possibility. He said he researched and determined that the program is “not worth the risk at the current time.”

LiveBarn is an online, subscription-based streaming application providing live, on-demand broadcasts of amateur and youth sports events using a multi-camera tracking system.

The council authorized use of the technology at its Oct. 17 meeting, pending a review of the agreement by Town Solicitor Patricia Buckley. That review found “numerous security issues, personal privacy concerns, and contractual constraints,” according to Ice Rink Manager Thomas Tullie, and “I have decided that the use of this product is not in the best interest of Smithfield Municipal Ice Rink.”

In a council meeting Tuesday featuring more of the familiar rancor between political factions, the council approved Albert Gizzarelli as a new member of the Planning Board.

Councilor Alberto LaGreca Jr. said he takes issue with the appointment of anyone who works in the building trades given the “difficult position” he might be put in due to relationships with potential customers. He said he doesn’t have an issue with Gizzarelli personally, but is concerned about all the votes he might need to recuse himself from.

Councilor Maxine Cavanagh agreed with LaGreca, saying she thinks it’s going to be “very hard for him not to be conflicted at times,” but Republican Santucci broke with those in his party and sided with Democrats Michael Lawton, who nominated Gizzarelli, and Alba in approving the new member.

LaGreca had at first attempted to table the appointment of a new Planning Board member, saying more interviews still needed to be conducted, but that motion failed 3-2.

Alba said she expects Gizzarelli to be an “incredible asset” to the board given his expertise. If a conflict arises, the new member would get an ethics opinion and formally recuse himself, she said.

Alba took issue with LaGreca and Cavanagh questioning Gizzarelli’s appointment, noting that there was no issue in the past having individuals with zoning violations appointed to the Zoning Board.

Local business owner Jackson Despres, a frequent contributor during the council’s public input sessions, was among those Tuesday to speak, offering a “year in review” recap of what he described as all of the town’s scandals from this year. Despres had two assistants in the endeavor, one to hold up a written account of what he was saying and another to finish his comments when his allotted five minutes of speaking time were up.