Former Police Director Joseph Santiago made a repeat appearance before City Council Tuesday night to rehash the city’s current gun quandary, in which a Santiago-led faction of police are seeking $200,000 worth of city dollars for the purchase of new handguns, despite an offer from the current gun supplier to replace all of the department’s weapons for free.
Mr. Santiago shed more light on that offer Tuesday, saying a police captain unaffiliated with the weapons team clamoring for the new Springfield handguns contacted Glock and received a verbal offer from the firm. That was later backed up with a written offer, outlining an official proposal to replace all of the current weapons at no cost to the city, he said.
Councilwoman Annette Lartigue said she was concerned that with the bid having gone out and Lawmen Supply Company of Egg Harbor City having responded, the city would be open to some sort of litigation stemming from any City Council decision to reject that bid and opt instead for the no-cost Glock offer.
“We’re going to pay for the guns anyway,” said Ms. Lartigue. “We’re gonna get sued.”
City Attorney Denise Lyles did not provide any information on Ms. Lartigue’s concerns, but legal sources contacted Tuesday night said that City Council members face no adverse consequences in rejecting the one measure and seeking the Glock offer instead.
Ms. Lartigue called for the second Santiago presentation last Thursday, when council was actually set to vote on the $200,000 resolution to get the Springfields. The council will now likely vote on the measure next week, according to council members.
It was said that calling for the second presentation was actually a stalling action after the resolution appeared headed for failure, with a majority of the council ready to vote no.
At one point Tuesday’s meeting saw a tense exchange that had audience members casting sideways glances. It happened after Ms. Lartigue began questioning the former police director about whether or not he had some sort of interest or hidden agenda to get the money for the new guns.
She cited Web postings as the source of the allegations, but Mr. Santiago took offense to the line of questions, as evidence of similar suspicions on the part of council members. Mr. Santiago answered no to all of the questions, and then detailed his planned response to any allegations of hidden interests in the new weapons from the city’s elected representatives.
“I’ll sue you, or we can take it outside,” Mr. Santiago said.
He also said he “didn’t know when this council went off the rails”, and alleged that council members listened to what people were writing on anonymous blogs rather than what administration officials were telling them.
Apparently Trenton’s growing Web community has been getting to some council members and administration officials, judging from Mr. Santiago’s comments and that Tuesday’s meeting had Ms. Lartigue calling for council to create its own Web site.
Ms. Lartigue said she was concerned about some of the information that was getting out to the public about council activities.