West Point Police Department uses grant for new emergency UTV

Published 10:21 am Wednesday, November 29, 2023

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The West Point Police and Fire Departments recently purchased a new utility terrain vehicle (UTV) as an emergency response vehicle using a $35,000 grant awarded by the Charter Foundation. 

“I can’t put into words how grateful I am to be given the opportunity to do this,” said West Point Police Chief Kevin Carter. 

The UTV will be used for emergency situations in hard-to-reach areas like the Riverpark trails in West Point. 

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Carter said he has wanted to acquire an all-terrain vehicle for the police department for many years. The vehicle adds a valuable resource for emergency situations where someone may be lost or injured on a trail or in an area that is not easily accessible. 

Carter said the police department partnered with the fire department to find the Polaris Ranger UTV and additional equipment with the funding. Carter shared his gratitude to West Point Fire Chief Derick Staley for lending his help with making the best purchase.

The grant also paid for a custom trailer, which will store the UTV and its equipment. The department also has an EMS gurney attachment to help transport injured people.

“You’re looking at saving resources, saving manpower, saving time,” Carter said. “Because with certain injuries, the clock starts ticking.”

The police department was awarded the grant by the Charter Foundation in July 2023. Charter Foundation Vice President and Chairman Bill Gladden said many city departments submitted proposals but this public safety project seemed like a good opportunity to make a difference.

“They need it because they want to use it partially for the trails. That was a problem that they had was when they had a call on the trails, they had no way to deal with it and this gives them access,” Gladden said. “We felt like this would be a good use of funds.”

The Charter Foundation, which began with the then Charter Federal bank in 1995, is now an independent foundation that serves the Troup, Chambers and Harris County areas. The foundation awards around $300,000 in local grants and scholarships every year.

“It would not have been possible without the opportunity to apply and be awarded that grant because we have a pretty strict budget and every penny that we spend goes to general upkeep of what we already have,” Carter said.

Carter said he first got the idea for an all-terrain vehicle around 2017 when an individual got lost after dark at the Riverpark trails. The officers tried pulling the patrol cars as far into the trails as possible to shed light. 

The search presented danger for the lost individual as well as the officers trying to make their way in the dark.

“We were all thinking, ‘man, if we just had a four-wheeler or something, we could just go in,’” Carter said. “… As opposed to risking injury to an officer or injury to the person trying to walk in the dark without a flashlight.”