When it comes to the Columbus Police Department’s fleet of vehicles, there’s really no such thing as rest. The department’s Ford Explorer Police Interceptor fleets are constantly on the move.
“Our primary fleet vehicles run 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, so we put a lot of miles and hours on our vehicles,” Columbus Police Capt. Doug Molczyk said. “The amount of time the vehicle is idling is just as important to me as the miles driven because the hours idling can also cause wear and tear on the vehicles. And the vehicles are designed to not only track miles driven, but hours in idle.”
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Hence CPD each year seeks approval from the Columbus City Council for the approval of new vehicles. Recently, the City Council approved the purchase of three hybrid Ford Explorers from a Nebraska state bid contract in the amount of $154,722 for the police. They’ll be accompanied by three other hybrid Ford Explorers purchased the fiscal year before that have yet to be delivered due to a delay from Ford, according to Molczyk.
“We’ll have six brand new vehicles being outfitted at the same time,” the captain said. “Ford has been having problems getting parts.”
Arguably the most popular police vehicle since the Crown Victoria was discontinued, the Explorer Police Interceptor is now widely used across America. The hybrid version of this vehicle is said to produce about 318 horses combined and can get up to more than 140 mph.
“Hopefully, there will also be a reduction in fuel consumption,” Molczyk said, noting police vehicles differ from those the general public buys and are made in a different factory. “We’re trying to be as fiscally responsible as possible.”
With that always in mind, CPD has a longstanding system in place for its vehicles so that it has the necessary rides to patrol and keep the public safe while limiting expenses.
The new vehicles, once received and outfitted with proper police equipment, will be rotated into the primary fleet of seven vehicles. The cycle continues from there as the ones with the most wear and tear will go into CPD’s secondary fleet of five to six vehicles while some from the secondary unit will become training cars, given to other City departments or sold at auction.
This rotation system also enables officials to move cars from the secondary fleet into the primary if minor repairs are needed to one in the main fleet. It’s essential CPD maintain a secondary fleet for when primary fleet vehicles are in the shop and when it has to call in for additional personnel to respond to different situations and enforcement activities.
A 12-hour shift typically results in at least 50 miles on a CPD ride that will go on all sorts of terrain throughout a calendar year.
CPD vehicles do occasionally undergo repairs, though the annual rotation prevents the department from having to spend a fortune on them.
“We have got to have vehicles on the road,” Molczyk said. “But it’s not fiscally sound to keep pouring money into them to maintain them. That’s why we have this process.”
The Council unanimously approved the purchase of the new vehicles for the police department following a motion by Councilman Ron Schilling that was seconded by Councilwoman Katherine Lopez.
Schilling cited the constant wear and tear that happens to police vehicles when they’re moving through town regularly or sitting idle and the department’s responsible rotation procedure as reasoning for supporting the purchase.
“I like how they’ve come up with a procedure of rotating them in and out. It has got to be done; we can’t drive 15-year-old cars all the time,” Schilling said. “Once they get to a certain number of miles, maintenance becomes a problem and that’s what we’ve got to stay away from. We can’t have them in the shop all the time … This is something we have to do because those vehicles don’t last forever.”
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