Amid a growing population, the Killeen Police Department continues to seek new equipment for its officers.
The Killeen City Council authorized more than $1.8 million for police equipment between 2012 and 2014, according to documents from the city’s website.
The expenditures include vehicles, weapons and other technology used as tools to fight crime in the city.
“In essence, the demand for equipment is a never-ending task,” Killeen Police Chief Dennis Baldwin said in a written statement. “The evaluation, maintenance, replacement and need for equipment are always placed at the forefront of our budget process taking into account the need for safety as the first objective in the equipment selection process.”
Baldwin said the department spent $510,221 for new or replacement equipment in the current budget year. The money comes from many sources, including the department’s budget, state and federal grants, and special accounts funded by property and money seized from criminals.
So far this year, the council authorized spending $393,102 to purchase equipment, including 23 new tactical vests at a cost of $66,335, and 231 FNH FN-15 military-style carbines. The largest purchase was $189,915 for 55 digital radios to replace ones the department phased out.
Equipment is often subject to heavy wear and tear, former Killeen Police Lt. Patrick Boone said.
“You are always going to have to worry about equipment breaking down after too long,” said Boone, who now works as the director for Central Texas College’s soon-to-be reopened police academy. “If that equipment isn’t working, it can be a risk to the officers’ safety and the public’s.”
Baldwin said the decision to procure equipment is an ongoing, moving target.
“The need for replacement is generally considered based on the type of equipment being considered, and how that equipment impacts the mission by providing an efficient and safe work tool,” he said.
Factors that impact when a particular piece of equipment gets replaced include advancements in technology, wear and tear, and the recommended life span of safety and tactical equipment.
Boone also said police vehicles commonly take the brunt of that wear and tear.
“They take a fair amount of abuse and have to be replaced quite often,” he said. “You could put 100,000 miles on those in no time.”
The Killeen Police Department spent heavily to replace its fleet of vehicles in 2013, according to city records. The council authorized just over $1.4 million in equipment purchases.
On Thursday, Baldwin said the department had several pending procurements in the final steps of authorization for the 2014 fiscal year.
Those include 20 fleet patrol vehicles, four motorcycles and an armored tactical transportation vehicle.
KPD spent $235,076 in new or replacement equipment purchases, and more than $1.3 million in vehicle replacements during the 2013 fiscal year.
“Although many replacement programs occur in a single year, some replacement programs are spread across several years,” Baldwin said.
In addition to replacing old equipment, the department also adds new technology to fight crime. In February, KPD received the go-ahead to use $14,727 from the state seizure fund to purchase “covert” surveillance equipment, including equipment for cellphone evidence recovery.
“We manage these programs that are fiscally intensive and critical to providing each officer with the tools necessary to perform their tasks in the safest manner annually,” Baldwin said. “At the same time, we look to the future and bring new ideas to the table to try and ensure officers’ needs are addressed in the safest and most fiscally responsible manner possible.”