The Pembroke Police Department is adding two new police cars, new computers and another license plate scanner to its inventory, Public Safety Director Bill Collins announced.
The cars are the biggest ticket item on Pembroke’s shopping list at approximately $39,000 each, once all the police equipment is added.
A good portion of that equipment - light bars, radios and in-car computer systems that will enable officers to do everything from write tickets on the spot to run background checks on suspects — will be paid for by what city officials call the “tech fund.”
The money in that fund comes from fines, according to Collins. The extra equipment is anywhere from $14,000 to $17,000 per car.
The police cars will replace higher mileage cars in the police department’s 12-vehicle fleet, some of which have more than 100,000 miles. The last time the city bought new cars was in 2014.
“It’s gotten to the point where maintenance costs are becoming an issue and it makes more sense financially to get new cars,” Collins said.
The city is acquiring the cars through the Georgia Municipal Association’s lease purchase program, according to Mayor Judy Cook. City council approved the measure at a meeting earlier this year.
The 2018 Dodge Chargers should be on the street in a few months, according to Collins.
He said the new cars will bring the number of PPD vehicles with onboard computers up to 10. That, and new software for the department and municipal court will make jobs easier for police and court officials.
“Our officers will be out being police officers rather than being clerks,” Collins said.
Pembroke is presently using software installed in 2005 that frequently crashes, according to City Administrator Alex Floyd, who also cited a lack of technical support.
The city also already has one license plate scanner, but is adding a second one so there’s one on each shift The scanners, which reportedly can read and photograph thousands of tags an hour, cost about $23,000 each and that, too, is being paid for through the city’s tech funds, Floyd said, though Collins noted the scanners quickly pay for themselves by rooting out drivers who, for example, are in stolen cars, driving without insurance, on suspended licenses, or wanted for other crimes.
He said the scanners alert officers to potentially dangerous situations as well, making their jobs safer.
And, Collins praised PPD, which he said is becoming more advanced than most cities of its size. “I think we’ve progressed to the point we’re the most highly trained police department Pembroke has ever had,” he said.