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Southold Town Police Department awarded grant for new boat

A federal grant awarded to the Southold Town Police Department will go toward the purchase of a new boat for the marine division, according to Police Chief Martin Flatley. 

Southold was one of three departments in Suffolk County to receive funding through the Department of Homeland Security/Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Port Security Grant Program, Chief Flatley announced at Tuesday’s Town Board work session.

The department applied for the grant in May, seeking funding to replace two boats in the marine division. Chief Flatley estimated the new boats will cost approximately $363,000 apiece.

“We were one of the few departments that got a partial award,” he told Town Board members.

FEMA awarded the department $330,000, which will go toward the purchase of one 27-foot SAFE boat, he said.

According to their website, SAFE Boats International is an American-owned aluminum boat manufacturer that supplies military, rescue and law enforcement agencies worldwide.

“It’s made for rougher seas and gives us the ability to be on the water year-round,” Chief Flatley said, noting that a SAFE vessel comes equipped with heating, air conditioning, shock mitigating seats, generators, a trailer and all the electronics needed.

He said the main reason they applied for the grant is because Southold police are the first responders for all the ferry systems throughout town, including Fishers Island, Plum Island, Shelter Island’s North Ferry and the Cross Sound Ferry when it crosses into New York waters.

The new boat will likely replace an aging 20-year-old boat kept at Port of Egypt marina, which could be auctioned to defray some of what the town will pay have to pay toward the purchase, Chief Flatley said.

Questions remain about how much that will be, however. The grant was expected to be a 75%/25% split between the federal government and the town. But the $330,000 award is slightly more than 75% of the boat’s total cost.

The chief indicated that he would finalize the costs at a later date, but said the town is expected to contribute $33,000 toward the vessel and an additional $7,000 for a familiarization course required for those who will operate it.

Three bay constables are expected to be trained alongside several police officers who are adept at handling boats.

“Best-case scenario, we’ll have [the new boat] operational by next season,” Chief Flatley said.

The Port Security Grant Program also awarded $286,000 to the Suffolk County Police Department and $25,000 to the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department.

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