Stillwater News Press

August 30, 2013

Bond vote could boost Stillwater police fleet

By Megan Sando
Stillwater NewsPress

STILLWATER, Okla. — Millions of dollars could go to the Stillwater Police Department to increase its vehicle fleet if voters pass a bond in November.

The police and fire departments will benefit if the city council’s $36 million bond issue is approved. The communications package is $900,000 and the fleet package is $2.3 million.

Chief of Police Ryan McCaghren said it is not necessarily an upgrade.

“If the bond issue passes, we want to increase the fleet by approximately 50 vehicles so each patrol officer is assigned one,” he said.

That would make the total number of vehicles approximately 75. Twenty-five of those vehicles are for special assignment, such as criminal investigation.

Today, the patrol unit consists of only 25 vehicles. The vehicles are multi-use, which means they are in use 20 hours a day, seven days a week. With traffic violations and police pursuits, a patrol car with 100,000 miles is comparable to a family car with 250,000, McCaghren said.

“The big issue is that it will save money over time,” he said. “It might take several years to see those savings, but other agencies have reported saving 15 percent.”

A single-use car would reduce upkeep such as oil changes, general maintenance and wear and tear. Officers would have a chance to take care of the vehicle as their own.

McCaghren said the plan is to purchase Chevy Tahoe sports utility vehicles.

The department’s fleet is 25 Ford Crown Victorias, ranging from three to six years old. Because the multi-use cars only last three to four years, it costs the city to replace them. Single-use vehicles can last three times as long.

“The officers need SUVs for more storage of their equipment,” he said.

The patrol vehicle has the radio, radar, cage and storage area. Officers carry weapons, duty bags, gas masks and helmets.

If the bond is passed, officers with individual patrol cars will benefit by increasing visibility, reducing the time it takes to load the equipment every day and lowering response times, especially in large-scale events like the wildfires of 2009 and 2012.

The communication equipment would improve wireless connectivity between dispatch and the patrol units in the field, McCaghren said.