City of West Plains, Mo. is rethinking how they provide new cars and gear for police

Published: Sep. 27, 2019 at 5:46 PM CDT
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Providing safety and security carries a heavy price-tag for police departments. In West Plains, they're saving money on new patrol cars and equipment for officers.

Instead of buying new cars and gear outright, costing the city a large chunk of money at one time, the city is doing what many other cities across the country are doing -- leasing the cars and equipment. By doing this, the city's Director of Finance believes the city can save around $40,000 a year.

City council approved a lease-purchase program for 10 new patrol cars that will cost the city roughly $450,000 over the next four years.

"Spending about $110,000 a year. On top of that, we're going to be saving about $40,000 a year compared to our current fleet," West Plains Director of Finance Todd Harman told KY3.

The savings come from switching from patrol cars with V-8 engines, to more fuel efficient 6-cylinder engines.

"We estimate that's probably going to save us around 12,000 gallons of fuel a year or around $27,000," Harman added.

Additionally, the city expects to save around $13,000 a year on maintenance costs by switching to a newer fleet.

Currently 14 patrol cars have over 100,000 miles on them.

"To ensure our officers are safe and the public is safe and being able to get to those calls, we want a fleet that is more updated and have less mileage," West Plains Police Chief Stephen Monticelli said.

The city will spend $19,000 per year on body cameras and another $3,000 a year on tasers.

"The current tasers we have are out of date. Basically the company is no longer supporting them. In other words, when they go bad, they're a piece of trash," Monticelli explained.

The department will be switching from a mostly black taser, one that closely resembles a firearm, to a high-intensity yellow colored taser.

"It's a safety feature and something we're trying to get modern," Monticelli said.

The lease program will also allow the department to upgrade body cameras every two years with the latest and greatest technology.

That new technology will allow officers to digitally send video rather than the current way of downloading video on CD's for evidence files or to send to prosecutors.

"Our videos are evidence and they have to be treated as physical evidence and this system will fix all of that," Monticelli told KY3.

Sgt. Kyle Parrish appreciates what the department is doing to make his and other officer's jobs easier and safer.

"We're getting the tools we need to go out there and make the community safer, to keep us safer, Parrish exclaimed. I don't have to worry about if my old patrol car is going to have a wheel fall off, if my taser is going to work, if my body camera's battery is going to go dead because it's so old that I don't catch the moment, that God forbid, I have to use force of any kind. It's a relief and I'm glad to see where we are going."

The new cameras and tasers could arrive as soon as November.

The patrol cars, which will be colored black and white, will likely arrive in early 2020.