By Curt Peterson
Killington Town Manager Chet Hagenbarth told the Select Board March 14 that negotiations are underway to purchase two new police cruisers for the Killington Police Department (KPD).
Although there are only around 1,407 residents, there can be 20,000 people in town if there’s an event or a busy weekend. Managing a police force under these conditions is a challenge, according to Whit Montgomery, the chief of the Killington Police Dept.
“A cruiser is an officer’s mobile office, and a lot of their shift can be spent inside the vehicle,” Montgomery told the Mountain Times.
The two retiring police cruisers are Ford Interceptors built on the Explorer platform — one a 2014, the other a 2016. Each has around 100,000 miles on the odometer, not generally a lot of miles for a modern upscale utility vehicle. But, Montgomery said, there is a lot of idling that affects the engine as if the cruiser is being driven – “about 30 miles per engine hour.”
Neither vehicle has been in an accident. But they “are starting to need increased maintenance, much of which is out of warranty, costing time off the road and extra expense,” Montgomery said.
KPD enjoys “fleet pricing” for the cruisers through a state buying system. In this time of inflation vehicles that cost Killington $25,000 each in 2007 are now only $35,000 for a basic black vehicle with a “police package” including heavy duty brakes and alternator and calibrated speedometer. KPD has the doors painted white and the town insignia affixed.
Then comes “upfitting” with medical supplies, fire extinguishers, road flares, emergency lighting, special radio, sirens, consoles, control boxes, computer with mounts, front/rear facing radar, hand-held lasers, spot lights and partitions. The upfitting is done by Adamson Industries, a woman-owned specialty firm in Haverhill, Massachusetts, at a cost of about $13,000. There will be new EMT supplies and all officers will be EMT certified as part of the upgrade.
“Some equipment can be reused with the new cruisers,” Montgomery said, “but some needs to be replaced due to changing vehicle design.”
There are many sites for purchasing used police vehicles on the internet. Montgomery said KPD can sell theirs at auction, sell them to other towns, or trade them in. Currently Hagenbarth and Montgomery are weighing pros and cons of outright purchase or lease/purchase arrangements for one or both of the new cruisers.
KPD’s original plan was to replace police vehicles every five years, and they have been fairly faithful sticking to that schedule.
Everyone gets excited about buying a new car, and Montgomery is no exception.
“This is an exciting time for the town, as we see growth with new families and renewed energy within the business community,” he said. “We see school enrollment going up, the housing market booming, business parking lots full, increased numbers of visitors — both overnight and day-trippers, and resulting traffic.”
“These are positive things, but they put additional pressure on police services. We are taking measures to keep pace with the growing town, and one way is to make sure we ensure safe, reliable emergency vehicles, not only for our officers, but for the citizens we serve.”