With so many Hamptons Police cruisers going by with people riding behind bars in the back, observers could have been forgiven for thinking a crime wave was spreading across our area. But police revealed this week the majority of cruisers in question were likely part of a program called Hamptons Police Ride-Along.
The pilot program, which the department feels is a great success and which will be expanded dramatically over the next few weeks, allows registered users to schedule a Ride-Along in a Hamptons Police cruiser to travel anywhere within the department’s jurisdiction, much like a taxi.
First, members requests a Ride-Along using an app downloaded onto a mobile device. The Hamptons Police then tap into secret federal databases to pinpoint the precise location of the Ride-Along customer—there’s no need to agree upon a meeting place, the Hamptons Police locates customers via satellite.
Using a computerized dispatch system, Hamptons Police Ride-Along dispatches a cruiser with a planned route that best suits the specific customer’s needs.
“This is a win-win,” said police spokesman Larry Hirsch during a press conference. “Let’s face it, most of the time our officers are out driving their beats all by themselves, with the backseats empty. It’s lonely, and it’s a waste. This way, they have company, they earn the department cash money in fares—and, not for nothing, Ride-Along customers get where they want to go.”
After the Hamptons Police has recovered the startup costs for the new program—Hirsch says the department spent close to $800,000 for software development and upgrades to its communications equipment—they will negotiate a fare-sharing deal with their officers. Hirsch says that base fares run from $10 to get from Sag Harbor to Bridgehampton to $140 to go from Flanders to Montauk. By paying a surcharge, customers can get high-speed service complete with flashing lights and siren.