Ringgold Police Department is a driving force of protection for the city with its nine full-time officers, two part-time officers and four auxiliary reserve officers. In order to continue serving and protecting, the Police Department recently acquired two military surplus Humvees from Excess Property free of charge in order to help rescue people in bad weather conditions.
Rick Worley of Ringgold is painting the Humvees for free and Norfolk Southern paid to equip them with light bars and tops.
Ringgold Police also accepted a free generator from Excess Property to power Ringgold City Hall in inclement weather.
All total the department acquired approximately $125,000 worth of free military surplus including the two Humvees and the generator.
"One of the motivating reasons behind this is last year we had snow that shut us down a couple of days," said Police Chief Dan Bilbrey, adding that in snow a Humvee can pull vehicles out of a ditch and trek onto property to rescue people. "We used personal vehicles last time and that was a motivating factor. We will put a rack in back of the Humvees to hold chain saws and shovels so in the event of snow or a tornado we can be effective."
Capt. Chad Cardin said the Humvee has benches in the back to help transport a patient to a hospital.
"We've seen through the tornado that there is a need for Humvees," said Bilbrey. "We are glad to have them. The Humvees will be used primarily as a response vehicle. I feel more comfortable in this. It's heavy-duty and armor-plated. In a tactile situation we are glad to have it."
He said Ringgold is not the only department receiving the vehicles. The Georgia State Patrol acquired 62 of them, according to him.
"If we have a natural disaster it's all hands on deck," said Bilbrey. "We will have as many officers in the Humvees as possible."
He said the Humvees are allowing the department to positively connect with the public in more ways than one; everywhere officers drive the Humvees children flock to them, he said. The vehicles will be used in parades and at school events as well as emergencies.
"These are great off-road vehicles and we can access areas in places not accessed by cars," said Bilbrey. "It's exciting to have four-wheel drive now."
He said the Police Department is in need of five more police officers, but is waiting on Ringgold City Council to decide whether the city can afford to add more staff. The city is still recovering from the April 27, 2011 tornado disaster expenses, he noted.