KAILUA-KONA — New wheels for police officers are expected to arrive on island this spring.
The Hawaii Police Department anticipates it will take delivery of 10 new Ford Explorer Police Interceptor Utility vehicles within the next couple of months, said Assistant Chief Sam Thomas. The six-cylinder, four-wheel-drive vehicles are currently being wired for the department’s police radios and in-car computers.
The new Fords are the first marked vehicles to be added to the police department’s county-owned fleet in about a decade. Supplying the 10 six-cylinder, four-wheel-drive vehicles is Orchid Isle Auto Center. Each vehicle costs $61,502.07, or $615,020.70 in total.
The vehicles will arrive fully equipped with lights, sirens and speakers, under warranty and will come with decals already affixed. The price also covers additional options selected by the department, including locking rear cargo storage, mirror lightheads, mounted gun rack and computer mount.
Usage needs will determine in which police districts the Fords will be assigned, Thomas said. The department will continue to utilize older fleet vehicles that remain in “operable condition.”
“We have several vehicles from the older fleet that had to be taken out of service due to age, damage, etc. and some of these will replace those or replace older ones still in use that are no longer cost effective or no longer capable of providing the type of service we need (i.e. issues that might make them no longer good for long distances),” he said via email.
The county first acquired marked police vehicles in 2008-09 when 33 sedans and SUVs, each costing $55,000 to $67,000, hit the roads. Today, Thomas said, the department has managed to keep 27 of those vehicles in use, including two to three that may be taken out of service.
“Although the 10 vehicles will not make-up for what has been or will soon be lost from the original fleet, our department is ever mindful of so many other needs in the community and are appreciative of what we were able to get with this appropriation of funds for fleet vehicles,” Thomas added.
The 2008-09 procurement followed the county instituting a Police Fleet Implementation Group to study setting up a fleet vehicle program to address questions over the department’s use of mostly unmarked vehicles lacking uniform paint, police emblems and other official markings.
At the time, all officers drove their private vehicles and were reimbursed for furnishing it for police use.
The group recommended a switch to all fleet vehicles.
The county ultimately opted to implement a hybrid program with county-owned fleet cars and subsidized vehicles. That program remains in place today. Budgetary constraints kept police from expanding the fleet until last year.
Currently, the department has 450 sworn officers with 11 vacancies. Officers receive either $562 or $600 per month, depending on rank, to subsidize the use of their vehicle. Each also receives a gallon of gas for every 10 miles driven on official duty.