Sea Isle's police department hopes to add to its fleet of emergency vehicles. (Courtesy Sea Isle City Police Department Facebook page)

By Donald Wittkowski

Sea Isle City Police Chief Tom McQuillen is compiling a wish list for his department.

It includes first aid kits, cots, generators, computers, furniture, storage sheds, night-vision goggles and maybe a Humvee or large truck or two.

Local taxpayers, however, don’t have to worry about having to pay for the stuff.

It would be free.

For the first time, Sea Isle has enrolled in a federal program that gives municipal, county and state law enforcement agencies surplus military equipment.

McQuillen said he has spoken to neighboring police departments that are already part of the program and was encouraged by their success in acquiring surplus military equipment for free.

“This is just another avenue we can go down to bring savings to the taxpayers and the city and better equip our officers,” he said.

Sea Isle Police Chief Tom McQuillen says neighboring police departments have had success in acquiring surplus military equipment through the federal program.

City Council approved a resolution during its July 10 meeting to officially enroll Sea Isle in what is known as the Defense Logistics Agency Law Enforcement Support Office 1033 Program.

The police department will have to make a request for military surplus equipment to see if it is available. Although the equipment is free, Sea Isle would have to pay for delivery costs, maintenance, fuel and any specialized training that might be needed to operate the equipment, according to a copy of the City Council resolution.

McQuillen said the surplus equipment that Sea Isle wants does not include weapons or any military-style vehicles, such as tanks or armored cars. He stressed that he has no plans to militarize the police department.

“That’s not what we’re looking to do,” he said.

Instead, the type of equipment Sea Isle hopes to acquire would largely help the police department to respond to flooding and coastal storms.

“We can never have enough of that stuff for storm response,” McQuillen said.

Surplus military vehicles, if available, could help Sea Isle’s police department respond to storms and flooding.

Sea Isle, a low-lying barrier island, was among the Jersey Shore towns that were pummeled by Hurricane Sandy in October 2012 and the powerful nor’easter Jonas in January 2016. The city also experiences flooding from even moderate coastal storms.

The Humvee or big military trucks that McQuillen would like to acquire through the federal program would have high wheel clearance, allowing them to travel through flooded areas to help rescue residents or motorists trapped by stormwaters.

The police department already has two, 5-ton former military trucks that it uses for storm response. Those trucks, however, were purchased by Sea Isle from a Philadelphia-based company that sells surplus military vehicles, McQuillen said.