Getting new police vehicles is the biggest issue for the Jamestown Police Department in the City Budget.
Police Chief Tim Jackson, while presenting his budget to City Council last night, said there are nine front line cars that are used every day of the week, “And some of the mileage – 162,000; 131 (thousand), 125(thousand), (thousand), and so on. the cards aren’t going to last much longer that’s a fact. Thankfully, it was included this year that we are getting one new vehicle and that is the first time since 2011.”
Fleet Manager Pat Monaghan said city mechanics are working on the police cars every day, “Some of them, within five years we’re replacing the engine and transmission. It’s not due to lack of maintenance it’s just simply usage. I would argue that the city does not own a vehicle that’s subjected to more severe duty than a police car.”
Council Member at Large Jeff Russell expressed concern, “If you have a police car that has a 130- or 160,000 miles on it and officers are involved in a pursuit, how’s that vehicle going to hold up to a pursuit with higher speeds? Is this thing going to fall apart in the process? Is the officer going to be injured? Is the civilian going to be injured if things are coming apart?”
Jackson said asset forfeiture has previously been used to buy new cars, but that fund is not reliable and there is only enough to get maybe one new car.
Monaghan added there is a very long lead time with getting police vehicles. He said an order submitted in April is still pending.
Jackson said replacing the range used for firearm training at a cost of $190-thousand dollars is his second priority, although that estimate has likely gone up since he got the quote in Spring of 2021. He said the current one is around 30 to 40 years old and is beyond its useful life, “The console is broke. The traps are getting old, or they are old I should say. To turn the targets, we can’t do that anymore and it leaks. The range.. we can’t do anything more with it. We can’t buy new parts for it, as long as it’s going to make it.”
Jackson said the range is used to two to three times a year to qualify officers on firearms, which is required, as well as for other training. He said there are no other indoor ranges in the county that the department could use.
Council Member Russell asked if a proposed capital project to purchase Virtual Reality Training for $62,500 dollars could be rented out. Jackson said it could be as it’s mobile and it would be the only VR tool in the county.
Deputy Fire Chief Matt Coon said getting new firefighters trained is an issue right now, especially with seeing an 9% increase in calls compared to last year.
Coon said one issue is that the state-run Fire Training Academy, while there is no tuition cost to the city, now has a lead time of up to 12 months to send a recruit through the Academy. They’re also not allowing the city to request a “placeholder” for potential new training recruits, “Going back to fourth quarter of 2020, when we approached the Academy about potentially having openings in the spring session, they advised us that they needed student names as they were putting their rosters together as of January 1st. Myself along with several other career chiefs from around the state who were involved in this particular zoom call expressed our displeasure with that because we have budgetary constraints. No bringing people on before January 1 when the budget takes effect.”
Coon said the Academy’s response was maybe cities need to align with the state’s fiscal year, which starts April 1st.
Coon said facility maintenance issues were his top capital budget concerns for the Jamestown Fire Department, “So top of the list would be the roof at Station 4. That was included. I can’t thank the DPW staff enough for helping us put all of that together. We do have quotes to do that roof depending on when we can fit it into the pipeline. We will probably have to get that re-quoted to be sure the material costs haven’t changed.”
Coon said replacing the deteriorating floor of Station 5 and purchasing gas-fueled back-up generators for stations that currently do not have one are the other top capital goals.
We’ll have more details on Monday night’s budget hearing in Wednesday’s newscast.