New squads in Manawa
Features include Kevlar lining in doors
By Ben Rodgers
Police will be able to better serve residents here with brand new, state-of-the-art patrol vehicles.
The Manawa Police Department now has a 2017 Ford Explorer and a 2017 Ford Expedition both outfitted for any situation that might arise.
“You don’t know what you are going to run into,” Police Chief Jim Gorman said. “It’s your greatest fear.”
These new squad vehicles have the standard law enforcement upgrades, like heavy-duty suspension, engine and tires, Gorman said.
A new feature this year is each door is lined with Kevlar as an extra layer of protection from gunfire.
“We are spoiled,” Gorman said. “That’s all I can say.”
Previously the department had 2014 Dodge Charger and a Ford Crown Victoria from around 2008-09.
The Charger had engine problems and the Crown Victoria has more than 125,000 miles. So this change was needed, Gorman said.
The new vehicles are also both SUVs. In the Expedition the evidence gathering kits can now be brought to where they are needed. Before Gorman would use his personal vehicle to haul the massive totes.
Plus, the four-wheel drive will allow for better driving year round.
“They’re more versatile during the winter months getting around the city,” he said. “They’re the new wave of the squad car for the future.”
Another upgrade is the fact that both vehicles will have identical controls for lights and sirens. Previously those controls were different in each vehicle. That meant while in pursuit an officer might have to take their eyes off the road to use a needed feature.
The process to purchase the new vehicles took at least six months. Once the vehicles were purchased they went down to General Communications in the Madison area to be outfitted.
In the time between Gorman had to rely on the generosity of others in law enforcement for vehicles to patrol the streets.
“Gratitude goes toward Sheriff (Brad) Hardel and Chief (Jeffrey) Schlueter in New London. They’re like a big brother because of their resources,” Gorman said. “We were able to lean on them.”
While the department is made up of only three full-time officers: Clint Schroeder, Jacob Noffke and Gorman, along with eight part-time officers, Gorman said his department will repay the generosity.
“If they ever needed anything from us we’d be more than willing to help them out in any way we could,” he said.
Gorman also appreciates the community’s help in raising funds to purchase three protective vests and helmets. Each set up cost around $1,300.
The vets hold a medipack and extra magazines, as well as body armor and a helmet. The set is heavy and is close to something a soldier might use in combat.
“It always bothered me when I came in here and we didn’t have protective vests for our officers for those situations,” he said. “I want to make sure they can do their job safely and return home to their families.”
Even though it’s a small town, the police department gets a variety of calls.
Those include everything from sexual assault, to child abuse to drug busts, to people locked out of cars and officers needed to chase down dogs.
“We work with the citizens really well and I think they appreciate that it’s more of a one-on-one basis with the public,” Gorman said.
Tom Grant, who now works for the Waupaca County Sheriff’s Office, was instrumental in putting together a program and soliciting donations for the purchase of the protective vests.
“The public was so great,” Gorman said. “I was just floored by some of the donations received.”