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Ayden to reduce number of police cars

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By Amber Revels-Stocks
The Times-Leader

Monday, July 16, 2018

AYDEN — A split decision by the Ayden Board of Commissioners recently reduced the number of vehicles in the police department’s fleet, which some said will save money, as the department purchased new vehicles.

Other commissioners were concerned that reducing the size of the fleet from 15 to 10 vehicles would force officers to share patrol vehicles from one shift to the next.

Commissioners voted 3-2 to approve on July 9, with commissioners Johnny Davis and Phyllis Ross opposing the motion by Raymond Langley, who first asked about reducing the size of the police fleet at the June 6 budget workshop.

Included in the 2018-19 budget was the purchase of six Dodge Durango police vehicles to replace older vehicles with more than 80,000 miles.

“I’m trying to assist the police department in getting vehicles on the road that will do the job,” Langley said. “If we reduce the size of the fleet down to 10, then we can have four vehicles on duty during a shift. There will be eight vehicles on the road a day with two vehicles held in reserve. I want to reduce the cost. (With this plan) there will be roughly $800 a year in savings.”

That savings is based on the cost of insurance, which is $192 per vehicle a year, according to Ayden Manager Steve Harrell.

Langley felt the reduction will not affect the police force’s capability while giving the administration more control over the vehicles.

Ross disagreed.

“I don’t want to reduce (the fleet). I just don’t see the point. Several other towns have a police car per police officer,” she said. “What’s next? Taking trucks away from public works?”

Langley felt that was not a fair comparison, as every public works employee does not have a vehicle. They share the vehicles the way he wants the police department to.

Ayden Mayor Steve Tripp did not want to reduce the size of the fleet and asked Police Chief Barry Stanley how he recommended the board vote.

“I will work with whatever the board allocates me,” Stanley said.

Harrell said, “I would respectfully say that our recommendation was for that number of vehicles that was in the budget; that would be the full amount (of 15 cars).”

Tripp informed the board that he was against reducing the size of the fleet and against purchasing six new police cars.

“I think buying the new cars, especially six at one time, was a bad decision,” he said. “I pulled the maintenance records of one of the cars in question … To me, these are reliable cars. I would drive them.”

The board had already voted to purchase the new cars at the June 11 meeting, Langley said.

“The idea is not to keep cars until they’re worn out. Eventually, we won’t have cars that are 15 years old,” Langley said. “Just because the cars passed the safety inspection doesn’t mean they’re safe.”

The purchase of six new police cars was part of the budget adopted at the June 11 meeting, which Tripp could not attend due to a family medical event.

Tripp would have recommended a staggered replacement instead of purchasing six new cars all at once, he said. He felt the board had received incorrect information because they had been informed the cars were “unsafe and unreliable.” However, all the cars had passed their safety inspections.

“(The reduction in fleet) will not affect our patrolling or the number of vehicles on patrol,” Harrell said. “There will be the same number of cars on patrol. Multiple people will drive the same car.”

Under the current system, each officer has a patrol car assigned to him or her. They drive this vehicle the entire time they are on patrol, and no other officer normally drives it.

The new system will see officers sharing cars. Four officers will still be on patrol during a shift. However, they may drive a different car on their next shift.

Langley made the motion to reduce the fleet, which was supported by commissioners Ivory Mewborn and Mary Alice Davenport.

Several municipalities have assigned one officer per patrol car, including Grifton, which recently moved to the program.

The Times-Leader serves southern Pitt County including Ayden, Grifton and Winterville.

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