Police car on hold

mlpd_-_cars.jpgMammoth Police Chief Dan Watson told the Town Council recently that his current fleet of patrol cars is “dismal.” The Town’s vehicle replacement fund had been used to pay bankruptcy lawyers in recent years. Chief Watson said it was time for a replacement vehicle.

Watson said he has managed patrol fleets for many years. He said, “You can keep pouring money into old cars or buy a new one.” Watson said there was $55,000 available to the Police Department in the Vehicle Replacement Fund. The request went out to bid, and Bishop Ford gave the best bid at $34,340 for a Ford Explorer. An extra $15,000 would be spent by Town Maintenance to fit the patrol car with radios, gun racks and more. The Police Department has made no vehicle purchase in two years. The car set for replacement had racked up 124,000 miles in hard driving.

Councilman John Eastman thought the timing was bad. He pointed to the forecast of no snow and said it wasn’t a good time for a money decision. Interim Town Manager Dan Holler confirmed that the Town could “borrow” money from the Vehicle Replacement Fund for cash flow if needed. He said $600,000 now sits in the account, but he also said the Town would have no problem covering the cost of a police vehicle. Holler did recommend purchase of one patrol car instead of spending more money to repair a car, which the Chief said needs a new engine and major transmission overhaul.

Eastman said he thought March would be a better time to determine the expenditure. Chief Watson advised that as many as three cars may need major repairs. He said industry standards say patrol cars should be replaced at 80,000 to 100,000 miles on the odometer.

Eastman also said the public perception of seeing a new patrol car in town would not match with the Town’s structural budget deficit. “Things have to change,” he said. “We can’t print money. I’m willing to address this in March when we know more about the snow year.” The Council directed staff to come back.


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12 Responses to Police car on hold

  1. Realist January 20, 2014 at 8:01 pm #

    Tic, tic, tic….
    Millions are due to pay off that ridiculous airport lawsuit you agreed to “settle for 20 years”!
    200,000 miles isn’t that much for a new technology vehicle.
    Keep changing your oil regularly, just like all of us in the private sector.

  2. Trouble January 21, 2014 at 7:20 am #

    All Mammoth really needs is cross walk guards .

  3. Desert Tortoise January 21, 2014 at 8:29 am #

    200,000 miles on a police vehicle is nearly unheard of. The engine and accessories are running all day every day, even when the vehicle is stationary. in order to provide power for lighting and radios. The vehicle is usually slip seated three shifts a day, and officers doing their job are not worried about babying their vehicle. 12,000 mile to wear out a set of brake pads is pretty normal. Compared to anything we drive, wear on a police vehicle is much higher.

  4. Odin January 21, 2014 at 12:04 pm #

    All the talking about 100,000 hard miles leave it for city our town is really small to drive hard on it give them bikes orpine chief Watson ride the bus

  5. Steve January 21, 2014 at 12:27 pm #

    “The Police Department has made no vehicle purchase in two years.” I have not bought a new car in 8 years, live with it we all have to made due with what we have. I suggest that all Mammoth police cars be parked in Mammoth instead of having the officers take it home with them in Bishop. Imagine all the gas, milage and availablility that would be saved.

    • Desert Tortoise January 21, 2014 at 4:00 pm #

      After 150K miles, if you want to keep the vehicle in service, a police department will have to replace both the engine and transmission, new brakes, new U-joints, suspension parts to the tune of $15K – $17K per car. That does not include paint, if any. I have seen Inyo County Sheriffs cars with big sections of paint peeled off revealing primer underneath. Our department has tried rebuilding their cars and it doesn’t pay the city back. The interior and all the many knobs, switches, hinges, door and ignition locks and electrical are still worn and prone to failure.

      Ford is sellng police vehicles for very reasonable prices and you can purchase a maintenance plan that covers everything but tires and brake pads ( and collision damage ) for only $3000 per vehicle per year. That allows the department to eliminate mechanics positions, if the city has it’s own mechanics, or paying independent shops for each job, and very large savings overall.

  6. Anita January 21, 2014 at 3:03 pm #

    Penny-wise and pound-foolish. I have heard those vehicles idling at the stoplight, and I would hate for someone’s safety to be dependent on their continued operation.

  7. Bismuth January 21, 2014 at 8:52 pm #

    DT, do you really think a 3000 dollar service plan from ford is going to cover watch guard camera systems, a gun lock timers, a light bars, a com radios, strobe lights, uni-trol control systems, ect.? These are all after-market upfit parts not ford parts. Last time I checked ford doesn’t cover non -ford products. This goes for all up-fitted vehicles not just police vehicles. And if you have to take a car to bishop every time something breaks where would your very large savings overall come from?

    • Desert Tortoise January 22, 2014 at 8:30 am #

      Ford covers the car, not the police equipment. Typically it is not the police equipment you mention that are maintenance costs to a police force, it is the car itself. Often the equipment you mention is moved from an old police car to the new one, sometimes several cars in succession. It is durable equipment. Routine maintenance like oil and filter changes, plugs, etc, brake fluid and coolant changes including parts are covered by the maintenance plan, Only brake pads and tires are paid for by the customer.

      The cost savings comes from being able to eliminate one or more mechanic positions in your city maintenance shop, if you have one, or eliminating the necessity of paying $100 or more per hour for a private shop to perform maintenance.

  8. Pedro January 21, 2014 at 10:47 pm #

    Ya, a new emergency vehicle would clash with the Gateway Monument in the public’s perception.


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