• December 25, 2014

KPD chief: SUVs would give officers more room

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Posted: Wednesday, June 18, 2014 4:30 am

The Killeen Police Department is looking to add more than $1.4 million worth of equipment to its fleet.

Police Chief Dennis Baldwin asked the Killeen City Council, during its Tuesday workshop meeting, for its authorization to purchase 20 new Chevrolet Tahoes and a fully equipped armored tactical transport vehicle for the department’s SWAT team.

Baldwin said the Tahoes will come fully equipped with voice radio systems, digital mobile data terminals and graphics. According to city documents, each unit, once equipped, has a price tag of approximately $58,000 for a total of $1.15 million.

The purchase already is written into the fiscal year 2014 budget, Baldwin said. About $897,000 of the funds will come out of the city’s general motor vehicle account, and the remaining $258,751 will be funded from the red-light enforcement fund. The red-light enforcement fund generates revenue from the automated red-light cameras at some of the city’s busier intersections.

Baldwin said the city is moving away from sedans to sport utility vehicles because they’re more efficient for officers and provide more room for equipment.

“The problem with the equipment is, once you get it in there, there’s limited space,” he said. “With the SUVs, with all the things we carry — flares, extra equipment, tactical or whatever it may be — there’s more room in the SUVs. Plus, if you think about it, some of the folks that we arrest are larger and can’t fit in the back of a smaller sedan, and that’s less challenging in an SUV.”

Some of the 20 new patrol units will replace units in the current fleet in need of phaseout because of age or wear and tear. Baldwin said 25 percent of all new vehicles purchased are required to go into the patrol fleet, while the rest are individually assigned to officers.

Once a vehicle nears the end of its life in the department’s fleet, it’s given to the academy for training purposes.

SWAT Response Vehicle

The $300,000 ballistic armored tactical transport vehicle the department is requesting would replace its current 37-year-old SWAT vehicle.

Baldwin said the department’s current 1977 vehicle was provided by the U.S. Air Force through the Defense Department’s 1033 program.

The program, approved by Congress in 1997, allows surplus military equipment to be used by police.

“(The current SWAT vehicle) does not have the protection or police functionality that we would like it to,” Baldwin said. “They’re not made for police work; they’re made for combat.”

He said the vehicle’s age also means its ballistic resistance is deteriorating, and is substandard to what’s available in today’s market.

A growing number of municipalities across the country are taking advantage of the DOD’s 1033 program and acquiring mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicles from the military that are left over from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

Baldwin said the department looked at acquiring an MRAP, but had several concerns, including the vehicles weight (20 to 25 tons) on city roadways and bridges, and the vehicle’s rollover rate.

“It’s designed for combat, not police-related missions,” he said. “We think that this (BATT) is the best value to the department.”

Funds to purchase the BATT vehicle would come out of the city’s general fund, according to city documents.

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