Town police cars are sporting new after-market accessories across the front grill, but not because it looks cool.
After racking up $25,000 in repair costs over the last year resulting from deer vs. police cruiser collisions, the town has invested just over $15,600 to install push bars on the front of 16 of its most used vehicles.
“The deer do a lot of damage,” said Captain Martin Flatley, the department’s executive officer. “The Greenport to Orient car really takes a beating, but just about every car has taken a hit this year, especially during the midnight to 8 a.m. shift.”
The department tried deer whistles, which might have helped a little bit, said the captain.
The burgeoning deer population has long posed a threat to motorists and caused 225 motor vehicle accidents over the past year. Those are just the collisions brought to the department’s attention, Captain Flatley said. He believes many more likely go unreported.
There are no numbers to support it, but the captain believes the installation of new deer fencing across the town channels the animals onto the roads.
The odds of a police cruiser hitting a deer are high, given the amount of time officers spend on the road. A patrol car can cover 85,000 to 100,000 miles in a single year, the captain said.
The push bars do not guarantee that the cruisers won’t be damaged, “but they will minimize it,” he said.