W -  HS Cars S5000308

HIGH SPRINGS – The High Springs Police Department (HSPD) took possession of five fully-equipped police vehicles from the City of Waldo on Dec. 10. The total cost for all five vehicles was $38,000. The purchase was announced by Acting Police Chief Antoine Sheppard during the Dec. 11 High Springs City Commission meeting.

Prior to this purchase, HSPD had been limping along with vehicles that were in constant need of repair or were in the shop waiting to be repaired. While money was budgeted last year to do some of the repairs, the vehicles were so extensively used that maintaining them had become a costly balancing act.

At the end of the last fiscal year, HSPD had saved enough money from their budget to be able to buy one sorely needed new vehicle.

Commissioners had budgeted funds to buy another new vehicle in this fiscal year's budget, which began Oct. 1. Instead of buying one new car, those budgeted funds were used to buy the five used Waldo Police Department vehicles.

Since HSPD's vehicles were used non-stop shift-after-shift, often for 24-48 hours straight, their mileage was high and the cars wore out faster, said Sheppard.

“Their [Waldo's] used cars are in much better condition than ours,” he said. “They had 12 cars for five to six officers and each officer had his own car, which was taken home at the end of the shift instead of being used by the next shift. That helped keep each car's mileage down,” he said.

Sheppard bought two 2010 Ford Crown Victorias at $7,000 and $8,000; one 2008 Crown Victoria at $5,000; a 2007 Chevy Tahoe at $6,000; and a second 2009 Chevy Tahoe in near perfect condition at $12,000.

Before making his choice, Sheppard reviewed the maintenance records of each vehicle and found they were consistently well maintained by the dealership.

“The equipment included in the cars was excellent,” said Sheppard. “It would have cost us an average of $15,000 - $20,000 to equip the cars. There is high level radar in these cars, which would have cost around $3,000. They also have front and rear antennas. We now have a camera in every car,” he said.

The small city of Waldo was able to purchase some of these cars and much of the high-quality equipment they owned through grants and competitions with other policing agencies of comparable size, explained Sheppard. “Chief Szabo wrote grants for whatever equipment was needed. In addition, the Waldo Police Department would compete in ‘Click It or Ticket’ competitions where they would do quite well. Through those competitions, the winning departments were able to obtain more and better equipment for their city,” said Sheppard.

The cars cannot be sold to the public with all of the included equipment. The cost of removing all of the police equipment in order to sell the cars to the public makes it prohibitive. Instead, the remaining vehicles can be purchased by other police agencies, including the sheriff's department, at reasonable prices.

“We will be taking some vehicles offline because of this new purchase,” said Sheppard. All are Crown Victorias. A 2002 with between 170,000-180,000 miles will be retired. A 2004 with transmission issues and a 2003 with engine problems will also be removed from the fleet.

HSPD has recently hired two new police officers and will have a total of 14 when the newly hired police chief comes on board later this month.

The fleet will be left with 16 usable vehicles, 14 of which will be used by the officers. The nearly perfect 2009 Chevy Tahoe is earmarked for the new chief of police. One will be used for reserve officers, whenever one of them is on duty, and one will be a spare car for use when a car is being serviced or repaired.

The current contract agreement between the police union and the city allows the officers to take their vehicles home with them at the end of their shift.

“The city is delighted Chief Sheppard was able to negotiate the purchase of these cars for our police department,” said High Springs City Manager Ed Booth. “We think this is a win-win for both High Springs and Waldo.”

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