By ROGER AMSDEN, LACONIA DAILY SUN
LACONIA — The Belknap County Sheriff's Department will be able to purchase two new radar units.
The Executive Committee of the Belknap County Delegation Monday afternoon approved the transfer of $3,000 for the purchase.
The approval came after a lengthy discussion over the proper procedure for accepting and expending grant money as the radar units are funded through a Justice Assistance Grant for $14,641 to the Laconia Police Department from the U.S. Department of Justice.
Laconia received $11,641 for nine semi-automatic 5.56-mm caliber urban patrol rifles as its share of the grant, but was required to partner with the county in order to be eligible for the money. A memorandum of understanding with the department which was signed by Sheriff Craig Wiggin and Belknap County Commissioner Dave DeVoy last June spelled out the details of the joint grant application and said that the Sheriff''s Department would receive $3,000 for the radar units.
Committee member Ray Howard (R-Alton) questioned whether or not the Sheriff's Department was involved in traffic law enforcement to the extent that they need radar units and Sheriff Wiggin said that the department makes several hundred traffic stops per year and is constantly in action when they witness traffic violations. Wiggin said the department needs the units as some of the units they currently have no longer operate.
Howard also wondered if the department could wait until the grant was received before making the purchase but was told by Wiggin that the money would only be available after the units are purchased and the request for reimbursement is submitted to Laconia.
Former Laconia Mayor Tom Tardif said that it was his opinion that the grant application process had not been followed properly and that the only people authorized to sign the paperwork are those with the authority to tax, which would mean the City Council in Laconia and the Belknap County Delegation for the county.
He said that the county had also applied for radar units in 2013 JAG grant but Wiggin said that there had never been a request in 2013 for radar units for his department,
Wiggin said that the grant application was handled "in complete and full compliance with law" and had been approved by federal auditors.
Executive Committee members, after hearing Tardif's argument, decided to go ahead and authorize the transfer by a unanimous vote.
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