About two years ago, then-West New York Police Director Michael Indri came up with an idea about how the city could modernize its aging fleet of police vehicles without saddling taxpayers with additional costs.
Many of the vehicles in the 26 car fleet had reached the end of their useful life, some exceeding 200,000 miles per vehicle, hardly the best way for police to operate at their peak efficiency.
What if the city charged a minor fee to private entities that needed a police presence to provide traffic or safety issues? This didn’t have to be a large fee, Indri figured, but enough to set aside so that after a number of these projects, the city could use the money to purchase new vehicles to replace those with the most mileage.
“I thought it was a great idea,” said Mayor Felix Roque, who saw the need to upgrade the fleet but did not want to increase taxes to do it. “When Robert Antolos became director, he picked up on it right away.”
Antolos agreed that this was a good way to go and continued The Police Off Duty Car Fund.
“I thought it was a great idea.” – Mayor Felix Roque
“This allows us to purchase new vehicles and replace older vehicles,” Antolos said.
The vehicles will actually be leased for the first three years, and then Ford will allow the city to apply this to the purchase of two, with the third vehicle at $1 cost.
Police Captain Santiago Cabrera said that through an arrangement with The Ford Motor Company, West New York has three years to pay for the total cost on each car, and at zero percent interest.
“So we don’t feel the impact all at once,” he said.
The city charges a fee of $150 per day per project, Roque said. This covers the wear and tear on vehicles required to be issued to each site.
The four vehicles have advanced mobile data computers, advanced emergency lighting, and radio systems.
The program has been going on for 18 months, and these four vehicles are the first of what the city hopes will be a number of similar purchases in the future.
Captain Cabrera said the four vehicles purchased under the program, and will replace those vehicles with the highest mileage.
Public Safety Director Antolos said the city hopes to continue the program to allow the department to replace more vehicles.
“I would love to replace the whole fleet eventually,” Roque said.
For West New York, this is a big deal, and police and public officials brought the vehicles to the foot of Riverwalk Drive where set against the backdrop of the Hudson River, residents can get a good look at them.
Public Safety Commissioner Caridad Rodriguez said is part of the administration’s commitment to public safety and quality of life.
Roque said the department recently added three new police officers and has five additional officers in the police academy.
“Our department recently closed three illegal gambling establishments, and residential crime in West New York has dropped by 24 percent in 2013,” he said.
Rodriguez said the department will continue to upgrade and to provide training in order to insure more public safety with the aim of providing a higher quality of life. She said the department will also look for other ways to cover costs such as seeking available grants.
Al Sullivan may be reached at email@example.com.