Yakima police to get 57 new patrol cars

Yakima City Council votes to use $4.6 million in American Rescue Plan funds to purchase police vehicles
Yakima Police Cars

YAKIMA, Wash. — The Yakima City Council voted Tuesday to use $4.6 million in American Rescue Plan funds to purchase a new fleet of vehicles for its police officers.

Yakima Police Lt. Ira Cavin said the department should receive 57 new police vehicles by October or November and after outfitting them with emergency equipment, should have them out on the streets by early December.

“The officers are really going to have the latest and greatest in terms of what’s available to us to help make them more efficient,” Cavin said. 

Cavin said many of their current vehicles were purchased in 2013 and have experienced a lot of wear and tear since then — enough that the department has about two break down and require unexpected maintenance each week.

“They’re starting to hit major mechanical breakdown points, like needing suspension replacements, water pumps,  transmission issues, things like that,” Cavin said. 

In 2018, the department spent about $219,000 on vehicle maintenance. In 2020, annual maintenance costs went up to $336,000.

Cavin said officers put a lot of miles on their cars, usually in the city, which is harder on cars than highway driving. Each of the older vehicles is at around 80,000 to 90,000 miles.

“We can’t shut them down because all of the technology that’s in there has to stay powered up so that the car can be able to respond on an emergency notice,” Cavin said. “So they run anywhere from 10 to 12 hours a day in addition to the miles that are on there.”

The frequent vehicle maintenance problems are a safety concern for officers and also take a lot of time. When an officer’s car breaks down, they have to get it towed away and another officer has to come pick them up, taking two officers away from their duties for part of a day.

“We’re having to send those to our mechanic and get them repaired and that takes the vehicle out of service for a significant amount of time, which also then takes the officer out of service while they’re trying to find a replacement car,” Cavin said.

Cavin said the new cars will be more fuel efficient, have upgraded dash cams and include computers that can be moved in and out of the car. He said the new vehicles should last the department seven to eight years.

While the dash cam system in their current patrol vehicles is much older and would have needed replacing after 2023 anyway, the newer system will be compatible with body cams if the department ends up purchasing them for its officers down the road.

Any vehicles that are unusable for police patrols will be considered surplus and will be auctioned off, recouping some of the money invested into the older fleet. Those cars that are still usable will be kept as spare vehicles or used in other areas outside patrol work.

RECENT HEADLINES FROM THE KAPP-KVEW NEWS STAFF:

RELATED: Historic Downtown Prosser to host ‘Red, White and Blues’ festival