The city is lease purchasing 17 new police vehicles for $537,739. Funds are coming from the increase in off-duty police vehicle fee from 2015, according to police director Jerry Speziale.
Morristown-based Beyer Ford will supply the 2017 model Ford sport utility vehicles (SUVs). The city will pay for the vehicles in 12 installments of $44,812 for the next three years, according to the resolution awarding the contract.
Council members approved the contract on Tuesday night. The council also awarded a $137,953 contract to Major Police Supply of Kenvil to buy and install needed police equipment like marking, radio antenna, lighting, siren, and speakers into the 17 vehicles.
In all, the $675,692 is being expended for 17 vehicles and the needed modifications.
“We have ancient cars. We need to have new vehicles so you put new computer equipment in and not spend money to go back and take equipment out of old vehicles that are falling off of their tires,” said Speziale. The city is undertaking a $1.56 million public safety communication system upgrade that includes a new computer aided dispatch (CAD) system, GPS tools, and other equipment that has to be installed in vehicles.
Luis Velez, 5th Ward councilman, asked Speziale whether the city can tap into its confiscated drug money to pay for the cars.
“Confiscated drug funds cannot supplant normal budgeted items,” replied the director..
Velez pointed out there’s law enforcement vehicles that state the cars were bought using confiscated drug money.
Speziale, a former sheriff, said he started that program at the Passaic County Sheriff’s Office. He said he bought them by not having a budgeted line item for vehicles for a full year. He also noted confiscated funds cannot be used to cover recurring expenses.
“The operative word is leasing,” added Kenneth Morris, councilman at-large.
“The leasing is the issue,” said Speziale.
The vehicles will be put in services in the winter, said the director. He said the city will purchase the cars at a nominal $1 fee after the lease ends.
Speziale said the vehicles will be used by patrol officer in the city’s 15 sectors.