police lights

The Ocean City Council discussed the possibility of retaining decommissioned police vehicles to serve as a visual deterrent in resort neighborhoods.

(April 5, 2019) Ocean City government’s proposed sale of equipment and other property, including three aging police vehicles, became a discussion of whether to retain the decommissioned vehicles as a visual deterrent in resort neighborhoods.

Councilman John Gehrig noted the list of items proposed for sale on GovDeals.com includes a 2012 Chevrolet Tahoe with more than 134,000 miles, and a pair of Impalas with roughly 125,000 and 143,000 miles each.

“What is useful life?” he asked.

City Manager Doug Miller said factors considered include vehicle age, cost of upkeep and at what point the price to maintain is higher than the appraised value.

“It’s somewhat of a scientific process,” he said.

Gehrig expressed confidence the city maintains vehicles in top-notch order.

“I have a couple of cars that are over 200,000 miles that are just fine,” he said. “I’m looking at this Tahoe … I might buy it.”

Councilman Mark Paddack said meticulous repair records are maintained for city fleet vehicles.

“There are associated costs and when those costs … regardless of mileage, exceed the use of the vehicle at some point it’s got to be sold,” he said. “The mileage is not a good indicator when we’re talking about city vehicles.”

Gehrig noted there have been previous discussions regarding using decommissioned police vehicles as neighborhood visual deterrents.

Miller said OCPD Chief Ross Buzzuro has previously taken issue with the concept.

“The police chief has maintained even if we put a vehicle as a decoy car, it has to be able to be used as a police vehicle if pressed into service,” he said.

Gehrig also asked how many OCPD officers live in town that would qualify to take a police vehicle home when off shift.

Paddack said there are less than half dozen officers living in the resort, while noting department policy prohibits marked police vehicles from being driven off the island to be parked elsewhere.

Gehrig suggested that old police vehicles could be deemed “B’” vehicles and used for crime deterrence.

“Does it provide a community benefit for our in-town officers to have a take-home vehicle year-round that’s a ‘B,’ vehicle?” he asked.

Paddack supported the concept but suggested the discussion would be more suitable for the Police Commission.

Gehrig agreed the current batch of suggested surplus vehicles should be liquidated but maintained the discussion of finding other uses for otherwise unsuitable vehicles should continue.

“It may be worn out, but when there’s a 2012 sitting on here, and we’ve talked about having police vehicle in our neighborhoods, we should be talking about it,” he said.

Councilman Dennis Dare, who has supported the police take-home vehicle concept, said an inspection process is included for vehicles that are nominated by the department heads to be replaced.

“The hardest miles on a vehicle are urban miles and not highway,” he said. “It’s hard to go by mileage on a police vehicle.”

Councilman Tony DeLuca said the policy discussion should go to the Police Commission and that Procurement Manager Catrice Parsons should be consulted.

“She really is very good at this and can answer all of our questions,” he said.

Mayor Rick Meehan said the topic has been broached by the Police Commission but could be reexamined during fiscal year 2020 budget deliberations.

“There is an associated cost with it so maybe at budget time that is one of the issues we can ask the chief to speak to … if that was a program the mayor and council want to move forward,” he said.

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