Statesboro City Council on Tuesday approved spending $400,000 to buy and equip nine new vehicles, including seven patrol SUVs, one unmarked SUV and a pickup truck, for the Statesboro Police Department.
Also, the SPD is moving forward with plans for a temporary substation at the Malecki Drive-Chandler Road intersection near Paulson Stadium. In an update during the meeting, officials said the substation is slated to open March 1.
The vehicles are being funded from the Georgia Municipal Association lease pool, which the city will repay with revenue budgeted from the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, said City Manager Randy Wetmore.
“In our current fleet we have 11 vehicles that are more than 10 years old, and the average mileage on those 11 vehicles is over 120,000 miles each, and the way a police car gets driven, that’s a lot of miles. It’s also a lot of hours of running,” Chief of Police Mike Broadhead told the council.
As older patrol vehicles are replaced, Statesboro police are continuing a move away from sedans such as the Dodge Charger to the Ford Police Interceptor Utility, which is essentially a Ford Explorer with a lower center of gravity and different seating.
When the transition to SUVs began in December 2016, the department had 56 marked patrol cars, including 2008-2015 model Chargers and some pre-2009 Ford Crown Victorias. One remaining Crown Vic will now be replaced, followed by some Chargers, Broadhead said.
8 SUVs + 1 pickup
At this time, the city will buy eight Police Interceptors from Wade Ford for a total of $228,896, or $28,612 each, and will pay West Chatham Warning Devices a maximum of $139,187 to equip seven of them as patrol vehicles. The equipment includes radar, the digital camera system, emergency lights and backseat partition, vehicle graphics and a door wrap that will take the place of silver paint on the doors of the otherwise black SUVs.
The eighth Police Interceptor will be unmarked, serving as an administrative or detective vehicle, Broadhead said.
Additionally, the department will receive one Ford F-150 pickup from Allan Vigil Ford for $31,917. These are not nearby dealerships but provide a state contract price available to cities.
The pickup won’t be equipped as a patrol vehicle, either. The department has one pickup and can use another for tasks such as transporting large items or “stinky” evidence that would otherwise have to be carried inside a patrol car, Broadhead said after the meeting.
“And sometimes you go serve a search warrant and you take away so much stuff that you’ve got to load up a pickup truck with all the evidence,” he said.
The vehicles all come with a seven-year or 100,000-mile warranty, which he said was an important consideration.
The move to create a substation began last fall as a suggestion from then-Mayor Jan Moore and took shape with a pair of lease agreements, extending 18 months, approved by City Council in December. For rent payments totaling $54,600 from the city, Property Mart owner Lisa P. Hodges was to provide a temporary building for six months followed by a permanent building for 12 months.
“We’ve been working on the substation out by the university,” Wetmore told the council and Mayor Jonathan McCollar. “The building is set up, if you haven’t been by there. We should be able to open on March 1st, with a couple of people hired by then, or it will be staffed somehow or another.”
Hodges placed the temporary building at the Malecki Drive-Chandler Road site, and various city departments have helped prepare it for use, Wetmore said. Water and power still need to be connected.
In a follow-up interview, Wetmore said he understood the city will begin paying the monthly rent when the SPD starts using the building. The original lease of the temporary site was for January through June, with Hodges to provide her permanent building at 1800 Chandler Road to the city for 12 months beginning July 1.
“But now that we’re just getting there in March, if we still spend six months in that one, that would be fine,” Wetmore said. “If that other one is available July 1, that would be fine too.”
Before the 18 months expire, city officials are expected to decide whether to keep the substation, which Broadhead prefers to call an office. The two people to be hired will be part-time clerical employees, available to greet people at a front desk, print reports and route calls, keeping the office open 40 hours a week.
“We’re hoping to have an office that people can access if they need copies of police reports, accident reports, if they need to come in and get some information,” Broadhead said. “Or if they need to meet with an officer … that might be more convenient for the people who live in that neighborhood, and secondly, it’s kind of a waystation for the officers.”
Herald reporter Al Hackle may be reached at (912) 489-9458.