Law enforcement struggles to get vehicles and supplies – Jamestown Sun

JAMESTOWN — Supply chain issues are forcing the Jamestown Police Department and the Stutsman County Sheriff’s Office to plan ahead to find vehicles, equipment and other supplies.

The Jamestown Police Department is having trouble finding patrol vehicles, Jamestown Police Chief Scott Edinger said.

“They’re just not available,” he said. “We tried to order, we got some of the cars we ordered recently, but we couldn’t replace an unmarked car with a patrol vehicle, a vehicle designed for police work.”

Jamestown City Council approved the purchase of a 2021 Dodge Durango for more than $50,400 on Monday, March 7, for the police department to replace a 2011 Chevrolet Impala. Edinger told city council Monday that the price of purchase was a little expensive but that it was already equipped with lighting, radios, a center console and other equipment.

The Impala trade-in amount will also be used to purchase the Durango. Edinger said the police department recently traded in a 2011 Chevrolet pickup truck that needed repairs to the 4WD, front end and electrical system.

“We got an offer of $18,200,” he said. “So I imagine we’re probably going to get a pretty good offer for this car. We’ve been looking after the transmission for a number of years.

Edinger said it will be difficult to replace up to four vehicles next year. He said there are two larger dealerships that usually have hundreds of vehicles but are now down to dozens.

“I don’t know what we’re going to do with it at that point,” he said.

He said changes to state law a few legislative sessions ago meant the department had to start budgeting for vehicles about 18 months before planning to purchase them. He said the ministry had to estimate a higher amount for the vehicles because their cost is unknown 18 months later, with inflation taken into account.

“Then when we have the final budget, a lot of that actually comes from where the estimated tax returns are,” he said.

He said an estimated tax return is sent to city and county residents on city and county budget proposals in August each year.

Edinger said the department needs to figure out which vehicles are the least expensive. He said the ministry could get a quote from a dealership that costs, say, $3,000 less than another, but could end up being more expensive once all the other equipment is purchased separately and installed. .

“We have to look at a lot of factors to figure out which is actually the cheapest,” he said.

Edinger said nearly all vehicles have gone up about $10,000 since the coronavirus pandemic. He said many of the government discounts on the fleet have also disappeared.

“It can range from $500 to maybe $3,000 or $4,000 depending on the make, model and year. And those discounts have pretty much disappeared,” he said. “Between the tagging now since COVID and these discounts going away and then the scarcity of vehicles, it’s gotten very expensive.”

Coupled with the increase in vehicle prices, vehicle orders are also canceled by the manufacturer without notifying the department. Edinger said the department needs to constantly check in to make sure vehicle orders are still on the way and that the department will still get them.

He said a vehicle that was pre-ordered for 2023 might not show up until 2025. He said the department has bid on a few vehicles so he can have them on hand in case of an accident or another vehicle needs major repairs.

“What happened was an order was cancelled, and we don’t know when it was canceled because by the time we checked it, we were supposed to have received it, but we didn’t. ‘have not heard,’ he said. “Then we found out the order was cancelled. Now we have to re-order and now it’s taking longer to get them and now we end up almost a year ahead.

He said a Chevrolet pickup that was ordered arrived very quickly, but when the department received a quote for a Chevrolet Tahoe, he was told it would be a 2023 model.

“And that was several months ago (in October),” he said.

Stutsman County Sheriff Chad Kaiser said the Stutsman County Commission approved the purchase of two vehicles, which are not prepackaged with law enforcement gear, last fall and hopes that the sheriff’s office will receive them by the end of April.

“There’s a lot of pre-planning we need to do now,” he said. “Order police vehicles, although we have three, these are more difficult (to find).”

He said that vehicles in general are difficult to obtain, as well as certain equipment that goes there.

“Some things you can get right away, but again you need to plan and get your order well in advance,” he said. “You know, if you need a vehicle or replace that equipment, you have to order it well in advance to get it here in time.”

Kaiser said trade-in value has been good for county vehicles. If another Stutsman County agency needs a vehicle, the sheriff’s office donates the vehicle to the other agency.

Problems with using older vehicles

Edinger said the problem when police departments have to use older vehicles is increased maintenance costs. He said all patrol vehicles have a 100,000 mile warranty.

“So if we go over 100,000 miles and one engine fails, there’s a $10,000 bill,” he said. “And it’s not like you can keep running another 10,000 miles because now we’re going to start dealing with CV joints and more common brake replacement issues for another period, bearings, electrical issues , cooling system issues.It ends up being a huge expense, and we get little benefit from it.

He said law enforcement vehicles are driven in a different way. He also said there have been more lawsuits in the past 10 to 12 years.

“So with that increase, it’s more wear and tear,” he said. “The harder the weather, the more wear and tear. We use a lot of electronics in these cars now.

He also said vehicles must continue to operate so officers are not disconnected from programs, which takes 10 minutes to get back to.

“You can’t always turn them off,” Edinger said. “If you’ve ever tried to start your laptop when it’s 20 below zero, it won’t start.”

He said there are computer programs that can keep agents logged into the programs, but that also costs money.

“We’re always evaluating things to determine what’s the cheapest and most efficient way to deal with the issues we’re having all the time,” Edinger said. “Now with rising fuel prices, it makes this computer program much more economical, but I guarantee that the company that administers this program also understands that it is worth more, so they increase the price.

Difficulty obtaining other supplies

Edinger said the police department struggled to get rubber gloves, more reliable computers and even ammunition.

“Ammunition has been just brutal to get and the cost has gone up at a double-digit percentage rate every year,” he said. “Training, when everything is going up, food is going up, gas is going up, motel rooms are going up. So our training has gotten more expensive. We’re trying so hard to cut costs, but you’re fighting everything that’s involved in inflation.”

Kaiser said ammunition was also difficult to find and took longer to obtain. The price has also increased, he said.

“We’re probably getting used to waiting now,” he said. “Nowadays we’re getting used to ordering ahead and we’re getting used to waiting.”

Edinger said another issue with finding vehicles and other items is the number of hours it takes to find a better price. He said he spent at least 40 hours trying to find a suitable unmarked patrol vehicle.

“Supply chain issues are really frustrating right now,” he said. “I think people see that everywhere we go.”

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