N.J. cops using other towns' patrol cars after fleet ruined by Hurricane Ida

When floodwaters damaged most of North Brunswick's police fleet, 11 neighboring towns came to their aid

By Kevin Shea

NORTH BRUNSWICK, N.J. — The town of North Brunswick’s police officers all wear the same uniform, but they’re currently patrolling in cars belonging to several other Middlesex County towns.

The department had nearly 30 vehicles and other equipment flooded in the Ida storms earlier this month, Police Chief Joseph Battaglia said. Rushing waters filled the parked vehicles, sometimes up to the dashboard, zapping electronics and causing other damage.

Officers initially mounted an effort to move the vehicles from a back lot at the department off Hermann Road, but it became too dangerous, Battaglia said.

Initially, the department borrowed a few cars from other departments, but then they had a novel idea. They reached out to other towns through the Middlesex County Police Chiefs Association looking for assistance.

Eleven police departments lent the department a vehicle or two, plus one private company, East Coast Emergency Lighting. “It’s similar to mutual aid, (but longer),” Battaglia said.

The department posted pictures of the assortment of cop cars on its Facebook page Tuesday to let residents know they might see another town’s vehicle if they request police service in the foreseeable future. Plus, they wanted to thank the neighboring agencies for the assist.

The department is operating some of its own patrol vehicles too, the chief said.

Battaglia said he’s aware of some other agencies having to borrow a vehicle or two, but none like his department is right now. He said there is a general shortage of police vehicles available from dealers, which his department found by calling around looking for extra cars.

Battaglia credited Metuchen’s police chief, David Irizarry, president of the chiefs group, with helping out in the effort. Metuchen also lent a police vehicle to the cause.

The remnants from Hurricane Ida caused deadly flash flooding all over New Jersey starting Sept. 1, claiming the lives of at least 30 people, many who were swept away in rushing waters – in vehicles and on foot.

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