Two snowmobiles previously used by the Navy in the Arctic Circle will be ready for blizzard-related emergencies that develop in the Round Lake area.
Round Lake Park is one of the few suburban police departments to own snowmobiles, said Chief George Filenko. One sled was loaned Tuesday to the Greater Round Lake Fire Protection District, with the other reserved for police use on the streets.
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Filenko said Round Lake Park Deputy Police Chief Dan Burch became aware of the U.S. military surplus program and procured the Navy snowmobiles about two years ago, with the idea they would be valuable in extreme winter weather. Filenko said the sleds with the Arctic Circle pedigree were free to the village.
Should the snow wind up as fierce as predicted, Filenko said, it could be difficult for squad cars to respond to calls.
"I think what we're most concerned about is getting people who are stranded and getting them off the roadway," the chief said Tuesday.
Neighboring Round Lake-area towns will have access to assistance from the police snowmobile. Both of Round Lake Park's snowmobiles were tuned up by a village resident and have been outfitted with emergency lighting.
Meanwhile, the Lake County Forest Preserve District's ranger police also are ready to assist municipal authorities as needed.
"Anybody who needs us, we'll respond," said Deputy Chief John Galford. "Especially for Lindenhurst -- it would probably be faster to ride the snowmobile."
Lindenhurst police are about a half-mile from the county's public safety building on Grand Avenue. The ranger department has six snowmobiles, four that are used full time and two backups.
Galford said he spoke with neighboring departments Tuesday and will help out as needed given the circumstance.
While he hoped assistance wouldn't be needed, Lindenhurst police Cmdr. George Moravec said it was appreciated.
"You always have to have an escape plan in your back pocket," he said.
Round Lake Park police have other vehicles that were obtained for free about two years ago from the military's surplus program expected to help officers in a blizzard. Two all-terrain vehicles in military green and a Hummer formerly owned by the Army are expected to be put to use.
Filenko, president of the Lake County Chiefs of Police Association, said regional lists are distributed so law-enforcement agencies are aware of what may be borrowed from other departments. However, he said, the Round Lake Park snowmobiles, Hummer and ATVs have to remain close to home this time.