New DARE Hummer Rolls Into Service

Eric Lombardo ’14
Staff Writer

The new DARE Hummer is sure to be noticed among students. | Photo by Rachel Guetta '13

Officer Ned Batlin is driving with style since September of this year in his new DARE Hummer, which was seized from a corporate criminal.

The black truck is worth about $65,000 plus another $20,000 in accessories including custom wheels and exhaust, but taxpayers did not pay a cent of this, said Sergeant Foti Koskinas.

This is because the Hummer was obtained from a white collar fraud case. In 2008, the car was taken from a Westport criminal and sent to a secured Secret Service facility in New Jersey. It was held there until the end of September, when it was awarded to the Westport Police for the work Koskinas did on the case.

The Westport Police is required to keep the vehicle for at least two years, under federal seizure laws. Any extra assets awarded from the case have to go towards the vehicle, which explains the custom additions. No tax money was spent and no profit could be earned from the car, said Koskinas.

The Hummer is the new icon of Westport’s DARE program, which stands for Drug Abuse Resistance Education. The program also focuses on friendships and bullying in schools, said Batlin.

The Hummer replaced a 2004 PT Cruiser, and is “the ultimate ice breaker… it’s great to see kids coming up to a police car instead of avoiding it,” Batlin said. He recalled two awestruck teenagers doing just that recently at the BP gas station.

“I’m happy to let kids jump in—sit in it… it’s a great way to meet officers,” Batlin said.

The new DARE vehicle serves as a reminder that crime doesn’t pay, and this time, it gives back to those who work to prevent it.