By James Niedzinskijniedzinski@derrynews.com
---- — LONDONDERRY — It's out with the old, in with the new as police officials are getting ready to purchase 16 new police cruisers.
Londonderry police Chief William Hart, Capt. Gerald Dussault and Lt. Timothy Jones gave a PowerPoint presentation to the Budget Committee on how the department can save money, in addition to having room in the budget for the new cruisers.
Typically, the police department would continue to receive new Ford Crown Victorias. But the car is no longer in production and police officials have chosen the Ford Interceptor as their new vehicle. The Interceptor is the police variant of the Ford Explorer.
The vehicles are paid for through the cruiser maintenance trust fund, which contains about $160,000. The new fleet is expected to cost about $110,000, but that number may change, Dussault said.
"Right now, we are leaning toward the SUV version of the Interceptor," Dussault said. "It has the same specifications as the sedan model. It has room for more equipment and personally, it has better visibility, you can see out of the rear window easier."
Every three years, the department signs lease for a set of new cruisers, all the old cruisers are being traded into Ford of Londonderry.
The new vehicles will be outfitted with new gear and equipment. Radios and laptops can be used in the new vehicle, but the Interceptors will need new cages and other vehicle specific equipment, Dussault said.
The old cruisers have seen better days, he said, each one has about 150,000 miles or more.
"The vehicles are toward the end of their life cycle," Hart said. "They are in use 24 hours a day."
Cruisers are switched with detective vehicles, which are used less and have less mileage, halfway through each year in order to better preserve each vehicle.
Police officials are meeting with the Budget Committee next month to fine tune the details.
Hart said he hopes the new vehicles will be on the road by March.
Jones also explained ways the department is saving money.
In the past, the department has spent a lot of money sending officers to license hearings. Now, officers can use Skype instead of traveling to Concord.
If the department continued to spend so much money on officers traveling to court and to Concord, it would have affected more than just finances.
"When the department spends too much money on court costs and travel time, justice suffers," Jones said. "Court cases get dropped and the public is losing out."