• 52°

Police Department seeks funds to build up car fleet

he Selma Police Department is seeking the approval of city leaders to expand their fleet of patrol cars to meet the demands of a growing department. The department is in the process of reaching their goal of 60 officers, but lack the proper amount of cars for the new officers. (Jay Sowers | Times Journal)

he Selma Police Department is seeking the approval of city leaders to expand their fleet of patrol cars to meet the demands of a growing department. The department is in the process of reaching their goal of 60 officers, but lack the proper amount of cars for the new officers. (Jay Sowers | Times Journal)

The Selma Police Department is expanding, but its fleet of police cars is running on empty.

Selma Chief of Police William Riley said the department has increased its recruiting efforts in recent months to bolster the size of its police force. In the past six months, Riley said the department has hired approximately 10 officers and is nearing its goal of 60. An increased police presence means a safer city and more proactive police force, he said.

“When you are able to have more people, that means more eyes on the community and increased public safety,” Riley said.

With the increase in hiring, Riley is running out of police cars to assign new officers. And, the cars currently in the fleet are eating into his repair budget because of the cars’ age. The fiscal year 2014 budget allocated $60,000 to police car repairs.

The police department last received new police cruisers in 2010 as a part of Selma’s $12 million bond issue. Riley said the seven cars purchased after the bond issue was half of the fleet at the time.

During Tuesday’s Selma City Council meeting, Riley asked city leaders to consider purchasing three additional cars this year at a total cost of $120,000. Instead of paying for the cars all at once, Riley said the cars could be paid for over three years for $39,000 each year. In a fourth year, the police department would pay $1 and complete the lease-purchase process.

“It would be great if we could buy seven vehicles in the same year,” he said. “But, we understand that other departments have capital needs as well. “

City Council member Cecil Williamson, who chairs the public safety committee, said the funding for police cars would likely come from the half-cent sales tax fund, which contains approximately $150,000.

“I don’t think there will be any discussion about it,” Williamson said. “Everybody knows we have aging police cars.”

Once the police department receives the additional cars, any current cars will not be retired or auctioned. Instead, Riley said he plans to retain the cars as backup vehicles.

“At this point we just can’t afford to put them out of service,” Riley said. “With the number of people we are hiring, we are still going to have to pick up a new car here or there.”