Updated: January 6, 2014 1:10PM
NORTH AURORA — An early Christmas present from the Department of Defense will help safeguard village residents during a blizzard, tornado or other natural disaster.
The military Humvee that Police Chief David Summer requisitioned from the Department of Defense Logistic Agency’s Law Enforcement Support Office is in good condition and ready to serve as an emergency vehicle in severe weather, the Village Board learned Monday.
The decommissioned vehicle arrived in late October from a Marine base in Georgia, said Deputy Chief Scott Buziecki.
“The last weather situation we had, which was the February 2011 blizzard, we had so much snow in the streets that our squad cars couldn’t move because they didn’t have enough ground clearance,” Buziecki said. “We only had two four-wheel-drive vehicles that we could use, and one of those didn’t have good ground clearance for the road conditions. Now we have a vehicle with really good ground clearance and good traction that can get through really heavy snow to reach residents who need our help.”
The Humvee is more like the discontinued Hummer H1 SUV offered commercially than the current Hummer 2 and 3 models, Buziecki said. Painted camouflage green, it probably did not see action in the Middle East, unlike the Gator utility vehicle that the village got through the LESO program in September. It also lacks most of the amenities that the commercial versions have.
“The interior is spartan,” Buziecki said. “Everything is metal. The seats aren’t comfortable. If we’d had to send somebody down to the base to bring it back [as the department did to get the Gator], it would have been the road trip from Hades. But it will be invaluable to us in emergency situations.”
Police will also bring out the Humvee for parades, public events and once a month or so just to keep it in good driving condition.
“We see a lot of interest in it on the streets,” noted Buziecki.
“At stoplights, people can’t take their eyes off it. It’s definitely a head-turner.”
Valued at about $100,000, the Humvee is a welcome addition to the police department’s fleet, he said.
“We couldn’t have just gone out and spent that kind of money, but it will be so useful in emergencies that we would have been remiss in our duties if we didn’t get it when it became available for free,” Buziecki commented.
But the police probably will stop looking for more military surplus vehicles, Summer told trustees.
“We’re not going to stockpile vehicles just for the sake of stockpiling,” he said. “Other things are available on the LESO website, like training aids, generators and lights, that we’ll continue to pursue.”