West Haven Police Deputy Chief Joe Perno said replacing some of the department's outdated police cars is long overdue.
“It’s an aging fleet,” he said, “They’ve come to the end of their life expectancy.”
The engine mileage on some of the patrol cars is in the range of 300 to 350 thousand miles, Perno said.
“They go seven days a week, 24 hours a day and somebody gets out somebody gets right in and the miles and hours that are incurred by those mount up,” Perno explained.
A viewer reached out to NBC Connecticut expressing concern about the condition of the police cruisers in West Haven.
“You got a tip on this, we are very much, this is something that was on our radar screen,” Mayor Ed O’Brien said in an exclusive interview with NBC Connecticut. “We knew it was an issue. We’ve been addressing the issue.”
After a patrol car broke down before a chase began last year, O’Brien said the city acquired five newer model law enforcement SUVs made by Ford.
This summer, O’Brien said the city plans to purchase 10 new patrol cars and five new vehicles for detectives.
Some of the department's plain white detective cars are 16 years old and most of the Ford Crown Victoria cars for patrol officers are at least six years old, Perno said.
“My father was a New Haven police officer for years,” O’Brien said, “I know safety of our guys is number one priority in this administration.”
Even though the city’s mechanics are doing their best to maintain the fleet, Perno said this is a much needed investment for officer and public safety.
“It would be a big cost savings to us and the taxpayers simply because of the wear and tear and the current maintenance costs both incurred by us and the city,” he said.
A $484,000 bond package will be introduced at the next West Haven City Council Meeting on May 23.
O’Brien said he expects the council to approve that at a June meeting.
The mayor said he is hoping the 15 new police cars will hit the streets in July or August. Each of the city’s 10 policing districts will receive a new patrol car.