NEW ALBANY — The New Albany Police Department is in need of an updated fleet, and if it receives final approval by the city council, it will be set to purchase 15 new police vehicles this year.
At Monday's meeting, the New Albany City Council voted 8-0 on the first and second reading in favor of a $450,000 appropriation to replace the vehicles and equipment. The third and final vote will take place at the council's next meeting on Oct. 17. Councilman Dan Coffey was absent from the meeting.
New Albany Police Chief Todd Bailey said he is requesting the appropriation to replace vehicles that "have seen better days," most of which are 2014 models. The department's current vehicles that need to be replaced have issues such as significant body damage, transmission issues and severe electrical issues.
These vehicles are at the end of their lifespans, he said.
"All of these vehicles are either what we would term to be problem vehicles or vehicles with mileage issues," he said. "What this would do is it would eliminate all but one 2014 vehicle from our fleet — the one that we're keeping is actually in quite good condition, and it's low mileage."
Last year, the department was able to purchase a number of new vehicles with an appropriation from the council, but this year, it is asking for the full appropriation due to the staff additions and the loss of a couple cars in incidents, according to Bailey.
"I always get asked the question, will there be a time when we can ask for fewer, and the answer is yes, especially now that we feel like we are fully staffed," he said. "We should be able to keep the cars on a six to seven year rotation."
Bailey said the department does its best to take care of the vehicles, and a full-time mechanic maintains them. However, the cars are run for long hours, and once they have been in an accident, they are never the same, he said. He expressed his appreciation for the council's vote in favor of the appropriation.
"The city council has always done a great job supporting the New Albany Police Department in the appropriation of equipment," he said. "Of course, the equipment is necessary for us to provide a better service for our community, so obviously, we work closely together with the council to ensure that the officers are provided adequate equipment to do their job."
Scott Blair, president of the city council, said he wants to make sure the police department has the necessary equipment and vehicles to keep the public safe.
"That is their work environment, that is their office, and I want to make sure that's comfortable for them and make sure they have the most up to date that's available to them," he said.