Assigned cars said to increase police ‘boots on the ground’
■ By Tom Jones / Contributed
The Hemet City Council recently authorized the purchase of seven new police vehicles and four emergency response vehicles for the police and fire departments. The fully equipped police cars are to be purchased under an assigned patrol vehicle plan, first implemented in 1994, that increases police visibility, patrol time and useful life of each vehicle.
By assigning vehicles rather than using pooled patrol cars, down time at the beginning and end of shifts is eliminated allowing officers to stay in-service for the entire length of a shift adding about 60 minutes per day, per officer. The annual additional patrol time realized by the department resulting from the Assigned Vehicle Program is 7,300 hours or the equivalent of 3.8 full-time officers.
In addition to patrol cars and SUVs, the department will replace a 2007 jail transport van and two special utility trailers. All of the replaced vehicles will be surplussed out.
At the same time, the Hemet fire department was authorized to replace its Medic Unit utility vehicle headquartered at Station 4 to respond to medical emergencies rather than dispatching a fire engine to reduce the overuse and accelerated depreciation of the heavier and more expensive equipment.
The council also authorized the purchase of a second medic unit for Station 2 to assist with excessive medical calls during peak demand hours and two utility vehicles to provide needed logistical support during emergency incidents. The latter would transport equipment and personnel throughout the city, provide hazmat services and serve as a backup Battalion Chief command vehicle. They would also provide transportation for the Fire Season Strike Teams. The four vehicles are all over 12 years old and have begun to require more maintenance and repairs each year.
The total cost for the police vehicles, including electronic and other upgrades, will be $412,659. This money will be funded through 2018-19 Measure U funds. The total cost for fire vehicles is $272,516, with one vehicle funded by Measure U and the rest balanced by the Fire Equipment Replacement fund.