Police shed light on a problem

FLINT TWP. — Imagine how frightening it must be standing out on the side of a dark freeway at night after an accident. That set the scene for the police department’s newest U.S. Department of Defense surplus acquisition.

“This past October, our detectives were called out to the expressway to investigate a car accident where there had been some critical injuries,’’ said Police Chief George Sippert, in a report to the township board earlier this month.

At times, police have problems having sufficient lighting when crimes and accident happen at night, he said. The fire department is often called to bring a truck that provides some additional lighting when needed, he said.

But Detective Alex Minto figured there must be a better way. He was one of the detectives who responded to the freeway accident scene on that fated October night. So he began researching a way to buy or obtain a portable light tower.

His search led him to the Dept. of Defense website where surplus military supplies are made available to law enforcement officers nationwide. Similarly, last fall the township police department acquired a free surplus armored Humvee, valued at more than $75,000 new, that is being retrofitted for use as a high-risk rescue vehicle.

Minto struck gold by finding a nearly new light tower with less than 55 hours on it. It would cost $12,800 new, Chief Sippert said. It was free but the department had to pay $600 to have it shipped from the east coast. It also required some minor repairs that raised the final acquisition cost to a little under $1,000.

Minto and the township fire chief went to Detroit in late January to pick up the tower. It will be stored at the fire department to be available for use by fire or police personnel, Chief Sippert said.

He described the portable light tower as being similar to a trailer that is towed behind a car or truck. It has a mast on it that goes up with lights on it to help illuminate crime and accident scenes.

The department is required to keep the equipment for one year but after that can do whatever they want with it, Chief Sippert said.

He praised Minto for his efforts in finding and obtaining this “valuable” piece of equipment to aid fire and police officials in doing their jobs more efficiently.

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