City's police fleet to gain two new vehicles
By Jennifer Zartman Romano
The City's fleet of police vehicles will include two vehicles soon, following months of research conducted by City Police Chief Tim Longenbaugh.
Last Tuesday, Longenbaugh told the Columbia City Board of Works of his plans to move forward and make a purchase.
"The mayor has told me I have $52,000 for two police cars," Longenbaugh said. The funds for the police vehicles comes from the riverboat gambling funds municipalities receive.
After looking at Dodge Chargers with V6 and V8 engines, Longenbaugh also looked at the Ford Utility Interceptor, a vehicle similar to the Ford Explorer, but designed for police use.
"I have done some research and the Ford Utility Interceptor now outsells any other police vehicle that's made," continued Longenbaugh. With this information, Longenbaugh approached the New Haven Police Department, a department and community similar in size to Columbia City, that has purchased seven of these vehicles recently. "They really like them," he said.
Longenbaugh said the roomier vehicles and increased storage space are appealing, but the ability to navigate extreme weather and challenging terrain was of the utmost importance.
"We just never know what the weather is going to be like and it sure is nice to have some vehicles that can get around," Longenbaugh said.
"We just had a situation last week with a suicidal subject in Morsches Park, out in the middle of a corn field north of where the pond is," he shared. Reaching the individual was difficult given the landscape and the weather, but an officer in a 4-wheel drive vehicle was able to drive right out to the individual and handle the situation.
"It's not that we need (4 wheel drive) all the time, but it's nice to have when we need it," he added.
During the bid process, Longenbaugh reached out to City Ford in Columbia City and Bob Thomas Ford in Fort Wayne, but said the "Bob Thomas quote was significantly less."
"The majority of the time we go local, but when we're talking about a $3300 difference (on each vehicle)...," mused Mayor Ryan Daniel. Because the city is planning to purchase two vehicle, the price difference amounts to $6600 -- enough to make the Board of Works decision to go with Bob Thomas Ford an easy one. The total cost for each new car will be $26,331 for each vehicle, putting Longenbaugh's purchase $662 over budget, but he said he would be able to fund the overage out of his department's budget.
"I made sure we were quoting the same vehicle with the same options," Longenbaugh responded.
With the board's unanimous approval to purchase the two utility vehicle, the police chief said he would plan to take two of the force's Crown Victorias out of use in the near future. Those vehicles will be stripped of their police equipment and will be disposed of at the direction of Clerk-Treasurer Rosie Coyle. In recent years, the City has disposed of vehicles via auction and an open bid process, but found similar returns with both methods. It was unclear during the meeting which disposal method the city might use on the decommissioned Crown Victorias.