Waynesville police officers currently share vehicles, so their entire fleet is essentially in service 24-hours a day, seven days a week. That means vehicles wear more quickly. Although buying each officer their own car will cost $500,000 upfront, the investment will pay off by extending the life of the vehicles and saving on maintenance, according to Police Chief Bill Hollingsed.
Officers will also be able to take their patrol car home with them, allowing off-duty officers to respond to more quickly if called in for an emergency.
The new patrol cars will be financed over a five-year period. The town will make its first payment during fiscal year 2015.
Only Alderman Gary Caldwell opposed the idea, saying it was too costly.
“It’s just so much money,” Caldwell said.
He recommended having assigned vehicles for only part of the force, such as the police chief, captain, DARE officer, the three K9 units, detectives, sergeants and lieutenants — but not for all patrol officers.
Caldwell said his thoughts on the program were not a reflection on the police department but were made out of concern for the town’s financials, particularly given possible state tax reforms that could take hundreds of thousands of dollars from the town.
“I feel we need to evaluate the realities of our fiscal environment and avoid potentially operating in ‘crisis’ mode,” Caldwell wrote in a letter to his fellow board members.