NEW CHEVY TAHOES FOR HPD, ROUGHLY $48,000 EACH PLUS, AT LEAST 10 TO 13 TOTAL NEW VEHICLES DELIVERED
YOUR TAX DOLLARS AT WORK, HALF A MILLION DOLLARS IN TAKE HOME CARS FOR HPD
The condition of the Hartford Police fleet, it is deteriorating quickly, I guess that is what happens when you don't follow the fleet replacement plan developed several years ago. Under that plan the majority of the fleet was replaced with end of the year, actually the last year that Ford's Police Package Crown Vic was being produced and the Chevrolet Caprice. That was also the beginning of the Black and White traditional police markings coming back to Hartford.
Almost daily, HPD cruisers are breaking down and being towed or "deadlined". Deadlining is the term used when the car is unfit for use and the car has to be taken to DPW's City Yard for repairs. Many days it seems like more cars on the deadline on City Yard than those actually operating. This is a huge problem , especially on weekends or holidays when the Patrol Division has to put officers on the streets in safe, drivable vehicles. Deadlining could be for anything from replacement headlights or windshield wipers needed or major issues like a blown engine or brakes or transmission problems
Now in many instances, Patrol Officers are scrambling to find working, safe cruisers to go out on patrol. And I think most people that know anything about modern policing would admit that there are many specialized units, but Patrol is the backbone of any Police Department. Twenty four seven they are out there facing the public and danger every day around the clock. No disrespect, but other units are left to mop up after patrol has already headed into the problems and dealt with it
You would think that respect by Police Administrators would carry through since in most cases, with a few exceptions, they all spent time in Patrol (some more than others). It is troubling to me when Officer's stop by my home to show me the deplorable conditions of their cars. I have seen cruisers with holes in the drivers floor and they had to take an old stop sign from City Yard to lay down to cover the holes in an attempt to make the car somewhat safe.
I have been assured for months now that new patrol cars were coming, Then I was told as of July 1st once the new budget kicked in. Nothing in July, Then I was told that they would be able to order additional vehicle since Governor Lamont's Budget Director, a former City of Hartford employee had found additional money to send to Hartford for vehicles.
As of today, no new patrol vehicles. Some older cars are being recycled back to patrol use. Then amazingly I received a call from a regular reader of the blog who has read many of the comments regarding the poor condition of the HPD fleet They told me they work at Constitution Plaza and Park in the Morgan Street garage and they observed a caravan of ten Brand new Chevy Tahoe's being parked on the fifth floor on the East side out of the view of regular traffic flow.
I had to verify that myself in light of the stories I was being told. Imagine my surprise when my wandering eyes beheld 10 shiny new Tahoe's on the 5th floor of the Morgan Street garage,east side, exactly where my said they were parked, all backed into parking spaces complete with police spotlights mounted on them. Now I have also been told that the Tahoe's would not go to Patrol since the engines are too big and they are not economical at all for Patrol use, not to mention the excessive speed factor and officer's crashing them.
Now lets look at the economics. The Tahoe's, even with Government discounts are probably sold to the City for between $43,000 and $48,000 any "upfit" charges like lights. sirens radio, gun safes, etc. would be additional and could add up to $15,000 per vehicle. Now also keep in mind, most of these Tahoe's are slated to go to Command Staff and Chief's, while Patrol Officers are left on the side of the road for Corona's to tow them back for repairs. By comparison, a source familiar with ordering Police vehicles told me that the Ford Explorer, depending on accessories would sell for between $23,000 to $28,000 each, almost a $20,000 per vehicle savings over the Tahoe's and a huge gas saving cost also when figuring in mileage.
The more economical choice would of course be the Ford Explorer. Now I am told there are production issues with the Explorer's, but where is the foresight? How can the Connecticut State Police have 250 new vehicles waiting in Middletown to be outfitted and every town around us seems to have new Explorer's on their streets, and Hartford, the Capitol City, has none?
The number of take home cars issued by HPD , basically as take home family cars with free gas and maintenance is deplorable. especially when their first priority should be getting vehicles out on the street to protect the City, not provide free commuter transportation to high ranking (and highly paid) administrators. I once had a HPD Captain tell me that he refused to take the car issued to him and left it parked at the old PD on Jennings Road unless he needed to use it for Police Business. He explained to me that "No one owed him a free ride to work, especially a taxpayer from Hartford" Sadly he is retired now , but I wish more shared that mentality.
These take home cars need to be issued on a case by case basis and not just a perk of the job .Certain people at HPD, zone Lieutenant's, The commander of the Traffic Division, the Major crimes Commander, maybe even the IAD Commander have legitimate reasons for take home cars. But to jut give brand new $50,000 SUVS to the Academy Commander, the Court Liaison, and others who very rarely get a call back or spend time on the road is a huge waste or resources. If they need to go somewhere, grab a set of keys for a fleet vehicle and head out from headquarters.
In the meantime, HPD's fleet is a disaster, I am told 5 Ford Explorers are being outfitted at the Company in Middletown that sets up the new cruisers. 5 new cruisers probably won't even cover the number of cars that break down today. (those five new explorers apparently have not arrived yet either) Maybe the City hasn't paid their bill yet.
The Financial oversight, if there is any, seems to be a joke, and half a million for PD rides home is a joke.In the meantime it would probably be cheaper to use Uber for the command staff, that's what we do in the real world