MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — As a series of national supply shortages continue, the Mobile Police Department is uncertain whether or not they will receive newly ordered vehicles in a timely manner.
Police Chief Paul Prine said MPD purchased eight Dodge Durangos last year as part of a pilot program to replace the Chevrolet Tahoes due to General Motors cutting production of the ‘Police Pursuit Vehicle’ Tahoes by 50,000 units. The police department has not received any of those vehicles yet. However, Prine said a fleet of Tahoes purchased two years ago has started to trickle in.
The police department currently has 408 cruisers, not including narcotics and undercover vehicles. They order about 100 vehicles per year to maintain a six-to-seven-year life span per unit.
According to Prine, last year’s state bidding window was supposed to be open for six weeks, but it was reduced to one week. The police department missed their opportunity to refresh their fleet.
With the bidding window open for this year, the city council is expected to vote on entering a bidding process for two types of vehicles for a grand total of nearly $3.6 million. The first bid is to Danohoo Chevrolet in Fort Payne for 32 Chevrolet Tahoe PPV for the amount of $1.6 million. The second bid is to Stivers Ford Lincoln Inc. in Montgomery for the amount of nearly $2 million. Approving both bids would remain within the city’s police budget.
Prine said that although the Ford F150 is popular among other law enforcement agencies, it would be a new addition to MPD. He said it became an option due to cost and availability.
“We will save roughly about $14,000 per vehicle once we outfit that F150 versus the Tahoe,” Prine said.
Among the oldest cars on the lot are a number of cruisers from 2013 with over 150,000 miles. Prine said the average police cruiser is running for 12 hours a day.
“The average wear and tear of a luxury vehicle or a personal vehicle is starkly different from that of a law enforcement or a police vehicle,” Prine said.
Despite both cars being decked out in police equipment and technology, Prine said the vehicles are bought as base models. The cars have cloth seats, vinyl floors and plastic back seats.
“Where it may seem like a luxury, for a police officer, it’s his office,” Prine said. “For the police officer, it is simply just another tool that the officer must have to do the job.”
If the purchase orders are approved by the council in the Sept. 19 meeting, there would be no indication of when the vehicles would arrive. Prine estimated it would take two and a half years.
The officers with the most miles on their cruisers will be the first to receive the new cars.