When Chief Joe Huff took over the Nampa Police Department in January 2016, he knew the department’s aging fleet needed special attention, but as he dug deeper, he discovered it was a critical situation. Special tactical units broke down on the way to a call or had to be towed back to the Fleet Division.
Fleet Superintendent Doug Adams also said his team was spending so much time fixing police vehicles that regular maintenance on other city vehicles was constantly deferred.
The Police Department has 56 patrol cars, 33 administrative/detective vehicles and 7 special use vehicles, with an additional 44 volunteer, motors, CSO, and SIU vehicles. Two years ago, 65 vehicles in the Police Fleet were older than 10 years, and several were older than 15 years.
“I suggested we look at a nontraditional method – leasing vehicles,” Adams said. And the mayor and City Council supported the idea.”
“Financially, it makes sense,” Mayor Bob Henry said.
In the just ending Fiscal Year 2017, the city leased 15 non-patrol vehicles for $52,044.24 annually for three years, instead of buying one vehicle for $30,000. Another 13 vehicles will be leased in the new fiscal year under the same terms.
At the end of the 3-year lease for each vehicle, the city will probably turn those vehicles in and lease more vehicles to replace them.
“The maintenance problem is virtually gone,” Adams said. “Now Fleet just changes the oil on the nonpatrol units. That gives his team more time to focus on other city vehicles, extending the usefulness of them, which ultimately saves the city money.”
In addition to leasing, the City Council approved the purchase of 9 new patrol vehicles in Fiscal Year 2017 at a cost of $38,005.20 with another $8,501.35 expense to equip them properly for police work, per vehicle.
Police opted for Chevrolet Tahoe patrol vehicles because they are expected to last 10 years and provided the best-use options. They will remain all black because it’s more expensive to paint them the traditional black and white. Another eight will be purchased in FY 2018.
The Police Department also replaced five of the specialized vehicles. The Crisis/Negotiation team now has a travel trailer, a Ford F-250 tow vehicle and a Ford F-550 tactical team transport vehicle, a Ram pickup designated for the bomb unit and a motorhome designated as a tactical command vehicle.
“These vehicles replaced old, inadequate vehicles that the department had been attempting to maintain at a high cost,” Huff said. “They will provide reliable service to our officers and citizens for many years to come.”
The total cost was $333,057.21 but the department chose more affordable and versatile options, instead of buying already customized vehicles designed specifically for law enforcement use. The cost would have been significantly higher if those specialized vehicles had been purchased.
These purchases, while expensive, are important in saving lives of officers who respond to active shooting or hostage situations as well as the citizens that may be caught up in those events.
“The vehicle replacement program has been a critical need for the police, and we couldn’t have done it without the support of the City Council and Mayor Henry,” Huff said. “We owe additional thanks to Fleet Superintendent Doug Adams for his research and Fleet’s customization of the vehicles to meet police needs.”