As the President of the Hoboken Policemen's Benevolent Association, I feel compelled to reply to a question posed by Mr. Brian Wagner that appeared in your August 10th edition.
Mr. Wagner asks, " ...Situation 1: Did we really need the new fleet of police SUV cruisers?" To this question I offer the following answer:
The six SUV's he refers to are not new but second hand used vehicles bought from the Port Authority of NY & NJ for a total combined cost of 11K. They were purchased by the City Office of Emergency Management and are used to patrol our city during emergencies such as rainstorms, flooding (which is common place) and heavy snowstorms.
They are not used for regular routine patrol duties, and gas consumption is not an issue. The average price for six "new" SUV's like the ones we purchased used would have cost in excess of $170,000. So in essence that's a savings to the taxpayer of $159,000.
Our current fleet of Ford police cars are not equipped with 4-wheel drive and also have a low ground clearance. These vehicles are not practical for patrol use during these climate emergencies. As a matter of fact, before acquiring these "hand-me down" SUV's, several of our once "new" patrol cars were ruined attempting to respond to such as their engines became flooded. While our agency did in fact obtain a fleet of 16 police vehicle in 2005, these vehicles have become victim to the ravages of time in the law enforcement profession.
During our last contract negotiation settlement the members of the police unions agreed to give back a portion of their salaries worked in the Outside Employment Program (off-duty work) to the city in order to help the city pay for new replacement police vehicles. This is a perfect example of your police officers giving back to the community without impacting the taxpayer at all. In practice, it translates into "cops paying for their own police cars!"
To date, it is estimated that this arrangement will bring in approximately $200,000 in revenue to the city annually. We expect that this money will be used in the near future to purchase new replacement police vehicles. The average cost of a new fully equipped police car is approximately $28,000.00. I have further suggested to city officials that any new police vehicles should by AWD capable and have a flex-fuel gas engine configuration to help save on the coat of gasoline while being environmentally friendly. I'm keeping my fingers crossed, in hopes that the city will live up to this agreement and heed to my recommendations.
It seems to me that, sometimes, no matter what we do, how hard we work, the sacrifices and compromises we make we will never ever be able please certain members of the public. All we ask is that we get the equipment and manpower we need to do our job to best serve you. I welcome all questions from residents at (201) 798-1820.
Vince Lombardi, President
Hoboken Policemen's Benevolent Association