Police department to sell six patrol cars as cost-saving measure
Tonganoxie Police Chief Jeff Brandau has received permission to reduce the number of patrol cars as a cost-saving measure in a department facing the need to make several expensive equipment purchases.
In a presentation Monday to the Tonganoxie City Council, Brandau proposed reducing the patrol car fleet from 13 cars to seven. The chief said he was making the proposal after observing the Tonganoxie Police Department’s activities for six months.
Vehicles account for 22 percent of the department’s budget and are its second-largest component after salaries, Brandau said. Selling the fleet’s older cars would save in maintenance and reduce the cost of upgrading in-car computers and replacing patrol car video equipment with the bankruptcy of the department’s current provider (a $5,000 expense per car).
A reduction to seven vehicles would leave the department with four cars for patrol, while providing full-time cars for himself, Deputy Chief Lt. Billy Adcox and patrol commander Sgt. Steve Hawkins, Brandau said. It would still provide one car in reserve for each shift, he said.
The reduction would eliminate the current practice of assigning a car to each full-time officer, which officers are allowed to drive back and forth to work if they live in the city or nearby, Brandau said. Officers would be offered rides to and from work to prevent a financial hardship to those officers with one family car, he said.
The savings from the fleet reduction would put the department in a better position to meet a number of coming expenses, Brandau said. Foremost among those would be the installation of in-car computers and video equipment.
But Brandau said he would first purchase the Web-based COPLOGIC reporting system, which allows residents to report suspected misdemeanor or low-level felony crimes from their home computers. The advantage to residents is that the system would send formal reports back to them, eliminating the need to make a trip to the police station and a $3 payment for a copy of the report. It will also free officers from writing reports, allowing them to stay on patrol.
The installation of in-car computers would allow patrol officers to remain on the street and visible while tending to the COPLOGIC reports, Brandau said.
Just how much of the needed equipment the department could purchase would depend on how much money was made from selling the cars, the chief said.
In approving the request to sell city property, council members praised Brandau for his budget oversight.
“I think the chief should be commended,” Councilman Dennis Bixby said. “I think it’s a workable plan.”
Also Monday, the council authorized the purchase of a new phone-answering service for the police department for $9,345. The cost will be offset by the end of the department’s answering service contract.