Tonawanda News — The City of Tonawanda unveiled its new custom designed police patrol boat Wednesday morning at a press conference behind City Hall.
The project, which took more than a year to complete, cost about $200,000 total, but most of the expense was covered by a Federal Emergency Management Agency grant — which provided the city with $139,500. The sale of the city’s two jet skis and the old police boat brought in an additional $24,470 toward the purchase.
“This was pretty much born completely from the grant money, and our priority is to thank the federal government for allowing this project to happen,” Mayor Ron Pilozzi said at Wednesday’s event.
Pilozzi also thanked police Lt. Scott Sheehan, who wrote the grant application and managed the purchase. SAFE Boats, which is based near Seattle, built the vessel, and police officers traveled across the country to make sure it met the specifications.
The 27-foot boat is equipped with two twin motors and has the capability to travel at speeds of 60 mph, Sheehan said. The department’s old boat, which was only 21 feet long, couldn’t travel in the lake as a result of its smaller size.
“This gets us to emergencies quicker, and it gets us out further into the lake,” Sheehan said.
The boat also has SONAR technology, which allows police to see what is under the water, as well as thermal imaging technology, which makes it easier to see what’s around the boat in the dark. The vessel is designed for rough waters, and is ready to go 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
“We have personnel on every shift that are trained to use it,” Sheehan said.
The boat is used for a variety of purposes, and Pilozzi stressed the city’s proximity to the Canadian border.
“It is important to recognize our own unique position along the waterway, even though we may be the smallest community along the Niagara River,” he said. “We are working hand in hand with Homeland Security to keep our residents safe.”