Vidalia police outfitted with new patrol vehicles
Published 12:01 am Thursday, October 16, 2014
VIDALIA — Nine new Ford Explorers rolled onto the streets of Vidalia Wednesday to begin helping members of the Vidalia Police Department protect and serve the city’s residents.
The department received the new SUVs to replace several Dodge Chargers that Assistant Police Chief Bruce Wiley said were more than five years old and beginning to cost the department mechanical headaches.
“We spent $40,000 alone just on maintenance for the Chargers,” Wiley said. “We kind of got to a point where we needed to decide if we were going to keep dumping all of our money into fixing those or get something new.”
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Wiley said he and other department heads spoke with various law enforcement agencies across Louisiana to determine what types of vehicles other departments were benefiting from the most.
“We found that a lot of people are starting to use the Explorers, because they’re such a good size,” Wiley said. “They’re larger than the sedans, but smaller than some of the Tahoes you see on the road.
“We think they’re just the right size for the City of Vidalia.”
To obtain the vehicles, VPD entered into a three-year lease program, which allows the department to pay $80,000 each year for all nine vehicles.
Wiley said there are no mileage restrictions on the lease agreement, and after the three years are up, the department can choose to turn those vehicles in and begin another lease agreement, or purchase the vehicles for $1 each.
“You really can’t go wrong with that kind of deal,” Wiley said. “When we had the option of spending our budget to repair old cars or get nine new ones for $80,000, I think it was an easy decision.”
The vehicles are outfitted for law enforcement use and include specific features, such as ballistic door panels, to help protect officers in the field.
Wiley said the vehicles were assigned to officers Tuesday night and began patrols Wednesday morning, with great reviews from the staff.
“They love them,” he said. “We’ve also gotten nothing but compliments from the residents.”