MOUNT DESERT — The police department will buy seven new rifles and eight rifle sights to replace existing firearms that are beyond retirement age.
The purchase, at a total cost of $8,529, was approved by the Select Board last week. The funds will come from the police department’s equipment reserve account.
Police Chief Jim Willis said the purchase of new rifles had been scheduled for last fiscal year, but because of factors related to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was delayed until this year.
He told the Select Board that, up until now, officers did not have a specific rifle assigned to them; the firearms were secured in patrol cars for use by whichever officers were on duty.
“But now we will issue each of our full-time, trained officers their own rifle to take care of, and that should make them last a little longer and be more reliable.”
Select Board Chair John Macauley asked what happens to the old rifles.
“We are going to repurpose some of the sights, and we will hang on to the rifles until we do our next handgun purchase, which I believe will be in two years, and we will probably trade them in then,” Willis said. “The dealer we are buying them from this time doesn’t entertain that sort of thing, so we will wait. We have an armory locker where we can keep them.”
In each of the past several years, the police department has received a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice for the purchase of bulletproof vests. Willis has been notified that the department is to be awarded another $1,000 grant for that purpose this year, although the DOJ’s final approval of the award is still pending.
The Select Board last week authorized Willis to accept and spend the grant funds. The board also authorized the police department to participate in the bulletproof vest grant program for the next five years.
Willis said the grant funds are used “to purchase replacement vests for veteran officers and new vests for newly hired officers.”