Crestwood aldermen OK purchase of police vehicles

City to spend nearly $1 million; fleet to be reduced 20 percent

By Kari Williams

The Crestwood Board of Aldermen unanimously approved a nearly $1 million purchase for police vehicles in a move that will reduce the city’s fleet by 20 percent.

Ward 4 Alderman Mary Stadter, who sits on the city’s Police Board, said the fleet will decrease from 10 vehicles to eight and put the majority of miles on vehicles under warranty.

The city operated under this method, called hot seating, before 2007, according to Police Chief Frank Arnoldy, at which time the department opted to “extend the life of the vehicles by not using them 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”

Hot seating uses “four primary patrol vehicles” 24 hours per day and decreases the number of vehicles needed in the city, according to the report Arnoldy provided to the board.

Arnoldy said the tradeoff for reverting to that method is that cars will be “replaced on a regular basis.”

“We’re not going to get seven years out of them like this because we’re going to run double the miles, but we did it before and somewhere in the future we’ll have to do an analysis to see which system actually served us better,” Arnoldy said. “But we hot seated cars for years … You run a lot of miles on them, but we’re going to be running miles on cars that are under warranty…”

The plan calls for two vehicle purchases per year and the warranties, according to Arnoldy’s report, will be active for “three years/36,000 miles on some components and five years/100,000 miles for the drivetrain.”

Arnoldy proposed two Ford police interceptor sedans at $47,610 and two Ford police interceptor SUVs at $52,064 that would be purchased through the state of Missouri Cooperative Purchasing Program. The program, according to Arnoldy’s report, “allows the city to purchase vehicles at the same price that the state of Missouri would pay.”

The “vehicle mix” will “proved an added safety factor for the officers,” Arnoldy stated in his report.

“A mix of SUVs also gives the police force a capability to carry emergency equipment and respond immediately rather than waiting for it to be delivered to them by another vehicle,” Arnoldy stated.

Ward 3 Alderman Paul Duchild said he commends the department for re-introducing the 24-hour concept, but believes the plan calls for more cars than necessary.

“So that’s my main sticking point here, otherwise I love the plan. It’s really good,” Duchild said.

The department, according to Arnoldy, will not ask for unnecessary vehicles.

“We’re not in the business of coming and asking you all for stuff that we don’t need,” Arnoldy said. “So you have our guarantee if we’re in a year where we can get by with a car we’re going to ask for one car …”

Arnoldy said the proposed plan is “based on what the economics looks like now” and may need to be re-evaluated depending on the city’s situation. The final decision on how many cars to purchase each year will rest with fleet manager Jeffrey Taylor, according to Arnoldy.

Taylor told the board once the cars are on a “rotating plan,” the city will “gain more money on the end of that cycle” instead of “running it till the wheels fall off.”

Two of the city’s primary patrol vehicles have been “redlined,” according to Arnoldy’s report. The city’s eight other patrol vehicles “are nearing the end of their life where the city can reasonable expect to dispose of them and receive anything in return.”

One car, for example, has had more than $12,500 invested into it “just to maintain” it, according to Tayler, and it needs another $3,900 “just to get it back on the street.”

“I’m running restore shop over here now. It’s not a maintenance shop. It’s a restoration shop,” Tayler said.

As the warranties expire, Arnoldy said the cars would then be used in capacities where they will not run 24 hours per day.