A Southborough police cruiser was involved in a minor traffic accident earlier this month at the intersection of Newton and Cross Streets. The cruiser was broadsided after its brakes failed.
There were no injuries and both vehicles drove away, but Interim Chief Jane Moran said it could have been “catastrophic” if the brakes had failed while the officer was responding to an emergency call and traveling at a high rate of speed.
It’s one of the reasons Moran says the department needs to replace their cruisers at regular intervals. Town Meeting voters approved the purchase of one new SUV last April, and Moran will ask them to approve another at the special town meeting later this month.
Moran told selectmen last week that the police department has replaced two cruisers each year “for as long as I can remember.”
If voters allocate the funds, the police department will spend $33,500 on a second new Ford Explorer. The SUV will replace Cruiser 100, a 2003 Crown Victoria with 76,000 miles on it. Cruiser 100 is used primarily by Chief Moran.
“It would be irresponsible to the town if we didn’t keep our fleet in the highest state possible,” Moran said. “And I would be irresponsible if I told the town we would be safe operating that car (Cruiser 100) for another year.”
Advisory Committee member Jim Hegarty said he called other area towns to find out when they replace cruisers. “It’s when they die on the road,” he said.
But Moran said in Southborough, unlike in larger towns such as Framingham, all vehicles have to ready to be patrol vehicles. “Our vehicles have to be reliable and they have to be able to respond to emergency calls,” Moran said.
Chairman Sal Giorlandino and Selectwoman Bonnie Phaneuf both voted to support the article at town meeting. “I don’t want members of the police department operating cars that are not up to par,” Giorlandino said.
But Selectman Bill Boland opposed saying the town can only afford to replace one vehicle this year. He also said he would not support an SUV being used as the chief’s car.
I think the town CAN afford to replace two vehicles yearly. I too am against the cheif using an SUV. Those should be patrol vehicles, especially during winter weather.
Brakes failed?! On a police car? With only 76K on it? And then it drove away?
Sounds to me as though the driver controlling the brakes failed. Bad brake system maintenance could explain also it, but keeping grit out of the master cylinder isn’t exactly rocket science.
This is a very thin rationale for replacing the vehicle. OTOH, we have replaced two per year for many years, often with no specific mechanical defect to point to.
Hmm, good point on the “then it drove away” statement. Perhaps the chief didn’t mean it literally drove away – bad brakes and all – but was simply expressing the fact that damage to both vehicles was minor?
And to clarify, the vehicle with the failed brakes is not the one being replaced, although the chief said they have similar mileage.
In defense of replacing the vehicles…….please keep in mind that they are running 8-10 hours straight. Yes, a lot of idle time, but sitting on the roadside observing or running radar is just as important as patrolling. The idling, as well as the very sudden acceleration and hard stops raises hell with these vehicles. So, a car with 76K actually has the equivalent of well over 125K on it. These cars see a lot more than our private vehicles, so please, let’s do as we have for years…..take the advice of the Chief (spelled it right this time) and buy a replacement. Make it a SUV for patrolling our streets safely. We can do as in previous years and have a car re-painted and given to the Chief for transportation.
Having the brakes fail has no relationship to the argument for or against new vehicles. I just had my front and rear brakes replaced at 60,000 miles since like most of us I have my car maintained at proper intervals. The wear was noticed before there was a problem. That does no mean that I get to buy myself a new car! The maintenance schedule for the cruisers may need to be adjusted!
Perhaps there are other compelling arguments for a new cruiser- for instance I am not aware of the mileage standards typically used for cruiser replacement. Overall, there are fewer issues with newer vehicles.