Coventry (RI) POLICE DEPARTMENT
Smaller cities can often find themselves between a rock and a hard-place when it comes to efficiently delivering public safety services to their citizens. While they don't see themselves as rural, their police departments may have jurisdiction over farming communities, national and state parks, and recreation areas. Patrolling this kind of hybrid environment can be difficult. Especially if the officers' only way of getting around is in a traditional squad car.
The Coventry (RI) Police Department found itself in just such a situation. The eastern part of their jurisdiction was made up of older homes and repurposed factories concentrated around the city. At the same time, the department was responsible for serving parts of three different, non-contiguous nature preserves that were difficult to cover effectively with squad cars. Although they have a bike patrol, there was still a need for an off-road vehicle to tackle difficult terrain and transport passengers, which is where the RANGER comes in.
After participating in a number of search-and-rescue operations with other agencies - including one in a nearby state park that involved a lost hiker - the department set about addressing the deficiency in their vehicle fleet. In September 2019 they bought a Polaris RANGER XP 900 with a compact rescue skid. In addition to using it on search and rescue missions in remote parts of their jurisdiction (including their more than 9 miles of bike trails), the Coventry PD will also be able to use it to get crime scene equipment and personnel into harder to reach areas. They also plan to do some cross-training with the Coventry Fire and EMS Departments that will allow them to use the vehicle to provide medical care to patients as they are being transported out of areas that rescue squads are unable to reach.
In addition to using their new RANGER to get into hard to patrol areas, the Coventry police also plan to use it for community outreach at events like road races and parades to connect with citizens and make their officers more accessible. Its smaller profile will allow easier navigation through crowds and enable officers to interact more with the people around them. According to the department, community members have noticed their new tool.
"We have had positive feedback from our residents on both social media and from those we encounter on the bike path," said Coventry Police Captain Benjamin Witt. "They have long called for increased police patrols on the desolate bike paths and our department is happy to have more interaction with the community."