Vidalia PD gets new patrol cars

Published 1:18 am Saturday, July 14, 2007

VIDALIA — If it seems like Vidalia police are suddenly all over town all the time, there’s a reason: they are.

The department has been working toward equipping every patrolman with a police car for full-time use — even when they are off duty.

The department is just two officers short of having every patrolman assigned their own full-time car, Police Chief Billy Hammers said.

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Part of the purpose of having every officer in a patrol car all the time is to increase police visibility, Hammers said.

“It gives us more of a presence around the town,” he said.

The cars also serve as a crime deterrent, Hammers said.

“If someone sees a police car nearby, they’re a lot less likely to consider committing a crime,” he said.

In terms of law enforcement, all of the officers having a car immediately at their disposal makes sense, Hammers said.

“It helps with our response time,” he said.

One of the biggest factors in the department’s decision to go to full-time car assignments is cost effectiveness, Hammers said.

“It saves money on maintainence fees,” he said. “You really cut down on wear and tear when you go to one driver a car instead of two or three.”

One of the ways the department has been able to afford the new cruisers is to buy surplus federal cars instead of new cars.

The two newest cars had 18,000 and 21,000 miles on them when they were bought at a cost of $10,000, Hammers said.

Hammers compared buying the used federal cars to buying a program car from a new car dealership.

The department plans to have all of its patrol officers equipped with their own cars in the next six months, Hammers said.

“I’ve got money in the budget for two new cars, but with these surplus cars and saving on maintainence, it’s a good deal,” he said.