The Gardner Police Department recently requested the purchase of a $9,400 drone utilizing funds in a special drug enforcement account.
In 2014, Gardner’s Law Enforcement Trust Fund was $8,187; it was $16,872 in 2015; and the current balance is $12,383.13.
The trust fund is used to document deposits and expenditures for properties forfeited to the Gardner Police Department as required by state statute. Expenditures may be made only for authorized purposes and are not to be used for normal operating expenses.
In 2015, the Gardner Police Department ramped up narcotics enforcement. Eleven warrants for narcotics were served in 2015; 17 were served in 2016, and 12 to-date in 2017.
“Despite the fact that narcotics-related enforcement activity is down this year, it is still a priority,” said Jim Pruetting, GPD police chief. “I attribute the slow-down to our efforts in that area.”
In 2015, GPD added a detective and a K9 unit.
“The K9 Unit has been very successful since its inception,” Pruetting said. “Patrol officers are utilizing the K9 team appropriately to advance their narcotics detection and enforcement activities.  For example, over the past two years, K9 Zeus has been requested by patrol officers 195 times and had positive hits for narcotics in 122 of those incidents.  Although arrests are not made in every incident where a positive hit is made, I’m confident that the presence of the K9 team has had a positive impact on reducing the drug activity in our city.”
Since hiring the detective in 2015, about 85 narcotics cases have been handled. “That does not include all of the misdemeanor cases that are submitted through municipal court,” Pruetting said. “He is also assigned other cases that are not related to narcotics as the need arises.”
Last month, GPD requested purchase of a drone costing about $9,400. The purchase was delayed pending further research.
The drone would be purchased from proceeds in the Special Law Enforcement Trust Fund.
“The drone is a resource that will be used in a proactive as well as a reactive manner,” Pruetting said. “It’s an asset that will improve our ability to ensure the public safety of our residents under a variety of circumstances, and I believe it is an excellent use of the funds that we’ve seized from those perpetrating and profiting from crimes committed in the City of Gardner.”
Pruetting said GPD would train personnel in house on the drone’s usage, and no new personnel would be added.
“The city’s insurance will cover the drone itself,” Pruetting said. “We are currently looking to determine what liability insurance will cost.”