Police chief asks to increase size of cruiser fleet

Police Chief Jane Moran told selectmen earlier this month that her department needs an additional police cruiser to keep up with the changing demands of their work. She had plans to retire two cruisers when replacements arrived this fall, but instead asked selectmen to approve keeping one of the older vehicles on the road.

The police force is slated to get two new cruisers later this fall thanks to a PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) donation from St. Mark’s and Fay School. The new cruisers were to replace two older ones currently in use.

But Moran told selectmen the demand for cruisers has increased. The anticipated closing of Worcester District Court means officers will have to travel a farther distance to Worcester to handle their court responsibilities.

She also said companies who hire the department to do detail work are increasingly requesting cruisers be present, especially when working along Route 9.

“It’s a safety issue,” Moran said. “It’s a need that wasn’t really foreseen before.”

Moran said instead of trading in two patrol cruisers this year, she would like to keep one with 73K miles on the road to be used exclusively for detail work and to travel back and forth to court. Moran said the trade-in value of the cruiser would be around $500.

Selectman John Rooney said he was in favor of the proposal because the trade-in value is so low, and because the cruiser would be used only intermittently.

The board voted unanimously to allow the cruiser to remain in service, but not before Selectman Bill Boland expressed some concern about the growing size of the fleet. “It seems like we have a big fleet for the size of the department,” he said.

“I can honestly say we use each and every one of them,” Moran replied.

The selectmen’s decision will increase the number of cruisers in service from eight to nine.

The town’s two new cruisers are expected sometime around November. Moran said she had hoped to purchase one of Ford’s new Interceptor models, but a delay in production led her to purchase two Crown Victorias instead.

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Al Hamilton
11 years ago

Interesting, the Kelly Blue Book on a 2007 Crown Vic with 75k miles in “Fair” condition is $9100.

footballdad
11 years ago

I agree with Al. $500 for a 3 year old car with 73K. Something doesn’t sound right.

Also, I was always under the impression that when police officers were hired for a detail, the pay for working the detail went directly to the officer. Is that not how it works? If my assumption is correct, then why should a town cruiser be used for a private detail? Like I said, my assumption could be wrong so would someone who knows please explain.

Al Hamilton
11 years ago
Reply to  footballdad

Footballdad

The business relationship is between the town and the customer. We pay the officer and bill the company using the service. We get a 10% mark up on what we pay the officer. Unfortunately we do not always get paid.

10% is mandated by State law but is a really bad deal. No business would settle for this. If we provide a cruiser there is an extra charge.

I am not a fan of details, aside from being the only state in the country that still insists on them they foster a lot of bad will toward police officers. I can’t tell you how many negative comments I have heard from passengers in my car over the years as we drive past a police officer sitting in his/her car on detail.

djd66
11 years ago
Reply to  footballdad

I agree,…. Something does not sound right. If there is an explanation of why a 2007 Crown Vic with 75k on it – is only worth $500.00, I would love to know. Someone please enlighten us!

I'm just sayin'....
11 years ago
Reply to  djd66

It just occured to me that I know people who use retired police cruisers as part of a car club who would be ecstatic to get this car for $500!!!

I'm just sayin'....
11 years ago

Seriously? Are we really considering paying the gas and upkeep on yet another cruiser? When I see them sitting on the side of the road or in a parking lot with the officer asleep or laughing on his cell phone…with the cruiser engine running?!?!? Or, when I see TWO of them sitting in a parking lot shooting the breeze? I am all for law enforcement having what it needs to do its job, but it is becoming increasing apparent that we do not say no to any and all of the requests that are made for more equipment, more officers, more whatever they want…this is not Dorchester, this is not Roxbury, this is not even Framingham. Take a look at the logs and see what goes on in this town. And why do they need to send so much equipment to 911 calls? I have seen the whole fleet of fire and police show up for the most mundane of reasons. It is time to exercise some common sense. And please do not misunderstand me….I am EXTREMELY appreciative of what our police and fire departments do for our safety. I just think we need to stop and really think about these requests…and I agree…I cannot believe that our officials bought that the value of this cruiser is only $500…incredible….

Neil Rossen
11 years ago

Just so frustrating. I just feel like giving up on being participative on commenting on town government. Maybe the Town manager plan (is that an apt description?) is an idea that is well past due.
Seems so easy to blow taxpayer money and to not bother to check on what the vehicle can be sold for.
Sorry, just venting rather than being constructive.

southsider
11 years ago

I can not imagine a time when 6 or 7 police cars are on the road at the same time.
Do we ever have a shift staffed with so many policemen to actually need so many cars?
How can our Selectmen have possibly believed that the value of that car was $500. They are the first to preach about fiscal conservatism but apparently don’t know the approximate value of a 3 year old car!
Embarassing for them and embarassing that our Police Chief would recite such a ridiculous number and expect to be believed.
And they voted unanimously to swallow the claim and allow the Chief to keep an additional car! They should reconvene simply to change their vote and reprimand the Chief for providing such bad information.
By the way, wouldn’t we all love to get new cars at 73,000 miles. Why not defer the new cars until the older ones actually need replacing?

susan
11 years ago

To back up “I’m just sayin’…. I have experienced two instances in the last month where police officers have been in their cars stationary with the engines running. One was in front of my house and the officer had his car running for at least 30 minutes. The other was in the parking lot of the Town Hall next to the Historical Society building. It was a reasonably warm day but he was sitting in his car with the windows open and the engine running for at least the 10 minutes that I observed. I suspect he was there much longer. Is there some edict that says police officers must keep their engines running in order to be able to respond quickly to a call? If not, then I suggest police officers use common sense and good judgment when they are on patol and keep their engines OFF.

SouthboroDave
11 years ago
Reply to  susan

Actually, yes. Police officers are trained to keep their vehicles running to allow them to respond faster. I realize turning on a car doesn’t sound like it takes too long, but we all know how long it takes a computer to restart, and if they turn off the car they need to start turning off battery draining devices to prevent battery drain so the car doesn’t die. If the car died b/c they didn’t leave it running I’m sure we’d all call them out for using such devices with the car off! It’s a lose lose for them. What we really need are hybrid fuel police vehicles. The technology is just not quite cheap enough or powerful enough for heavy duty cruisers. I’m all for green cars and turning off the car when there just looking up some information in a parking lot, but when that call comes over the radio, that officer had better be able to put that car in drive and go in under 3 seconds. If he had to start the car and fumble with restarting a laptop all while driving to the scene it might just mean the difference between getting there in time to save the day.

Resident
11 years ago

I suspect a police cruiser at 73K miles is very different from a private car at 73K miles. Police cars take an incredible beating and the mileage is very deceptive. I remember this conversation from two years ago. From the strain on the engine from the kind of driving and – yes – idling they do, to the terrible beating the interior takes both in the front seat from officers virtually living in them and the back seat from detainees (you can imagine – vomit and whatever else.) I don’t think a police cruiser can be compared to your gandfathers Crown Vic.

Al Hamilton
11 years ago
Reply to  Resident

Resident

I would certainly agree that the use pattern for a police vehicle is different than my use pattern. But, you might ask where do these vehicles go after they are traded or sold for $500 (or whatever the number is). They often spend the next 200k miles as taxi cabs which have, in my opinion, a very similar use pattern except that the cabby who has to pay for gas turn his/her engine off when not engaged.

I have heard reports that other departments keep their police vehicles for up to 125k miles.

Here is the simple calculation that no one seems to do in town hall. If we pay about $35k for a cruiser and get 3 years of use then that vehicle depreciates at about $12k per year. The town and the taxpayers should be willing to spend up to $12k in repairs (above and beyond normal maintenance) in a year to extend the life of the crusier for another year. That will pay for a new engine, new transmission, shocks and an air fresher and have some left over. If we extend the life for 4 years the depreciation number is about $8k, 5 years it falls to about $7k and eventually gets to a number that rationally dictates that we dispose of the vehicle.

I certainly do not want to deny our public safety workers the proper tools to do their job but in return we should expect appropriate stewardship of the substantial assets that we provide those organizations. Sadly, that stewardship is lacking and it is the taxpayer is the one being taken for a ride.

resident too
11 years ago

This is just another instance of the BOS giving Jane Moran whatever she wants. If anyone else in town needs anything, they should just ask Jane to present it to the BOS, it will surely be approved. Has anyone ever driven up to the police station on any given day? There is ALWAYS at least one and sometimes as many as 4 or 5 cruisers in the parking lot. If a company wants a cruiser for a detail charge them a flat fee. If they don’t pay it send them to collections. You can’t have the ambulance come out and not get charge or sent to collections, why is it different? If the money is owed, the money is owed. In the meantime, Jane Moran and the BOS is what we need to focus on to be fiscally responsible. I too am all for the police having what they need but this is getting ridiculous – enough already!

Al Hamilton
11 years ago
Reply to  susan

I bid $600

I'm just sayin'....
11 years ago
Reply to  susan

Maybe we should find a new vendor!!!!

southsider
11 years ago

“she confirmed”!!!!!!

If they’re paid to enforce the law, it’s a shame they can’t see highway robbery when it’s right in front of their nose.

C. Nicholas Ellis
11 years ago

I don’t doubt Chief Moran’s claim. What I question is why there is no alternative course of action. Is there some contractual or legal reason why we can’t sell the vehicle at auction, or even as a private party sale? The vehicle is easily worth far more than $500 on the market, so unless we’re required to trade in the vehicle to the same vendor we purchased / leased it from, I don’t see why it can’t be sold for a better price, unless there are laws against such action. It wouldn’t surprise me if there were, knowing how this state operates.

Frank Crowell
11 years ago

We need a new sign north of town that reads: Welcome to Southbrough the town where never is heard a discouraging word on spending. For aesthetic balance, the sign should be a rusted piece of steel.



It is amazing how a cost savings (police cruisers being purchase by educational non-profits) can turn into more spending. Does the BOS not understand the current economic condition. I had higher expectations on the last two votes I cast for BOS representation.

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