Hanford police looking to add cruisers

March 27, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
A South Valley police department is looking to expand its fleet of patrol cars. And, the roughly $800,000 dollar plan is actually expected to save money.

The Hanford Police Chief told Action News his officers will be assigned their own patrol car and be able to take the units home, if they live within the city limits. This, he said, will create more of a police presence.

Hanford police say the department's patrols cars are out on the streets around the clock. "Our cars are barely making it to 80,000 because they're being run 24 hours a day," Hanford Police Chief Carlos Mestas said. "When you run a car 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, it's not the miles, it's the fact that it's running. And it's running hot."

And that is making the units wear down quickly. Chief Mestas said his patrol cars right now last about three years. He has 11 units for his 54 sworn officers.

"The added benefit is going to be the fact that the officers are going to be driving from work home, from home to work, and be available, especially in those critical incidents when they have to respond from home," Mestas said.

Mestas is referring to critical incidents like in 2010 when one of his officers was shot. Every on-duty officer responded to this scene just outside the city, forcing Hanford SWAT to drive out in their own cars.

This plan would bring the force from 11 units to 33 over two years. Each officer would be assigned their own patrol car, with the assumption they would be better maintained. The projected life span of the patrol cars is 8-10 years.

Hanford's newest city manager says the budget can handle the roughly 800 thousand dollar expense. "We are fortunate we have been managed fiscally well over the past few years," said City Manager Darrel Pyle. "We have equipment replacement reserves. We also have development impact fees we have collected to provide for expansion of public safety facilities and equipment."

Chief Mestas also hopes by having more patrol cars on the streets and parked at officer's homes Hanford's perceived and actual safety will increase.

The chief said based on a study done by the city of Tacoma, Washington having officers in Hanford sharing patrol cars wastes 36 minutes a day while swapping out equipment during a shift change. He said that translates into $140,000 a year in unproductive police time.

The city council still must sign off on the plan.

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