Scappoose City Council agrees to buy four new pursuit-rated cars

Photo Credit: COURTNEY VAUGHN - Police vehicles at the Scappoose police station show a variety of makes and models in use. The Scappoose City Council voted Tuesday to purchase four new Dodge Charger patrol vehicles.Scappoose city councilors voted unanimously Tuesday, Sept. 2, to amend the city’s budget and buy four new 2015 Dodge Charger patrol vehicles for a total cost of $120,153.

The purchase will allow the department to phase out three of its Chevrolet Tahoe patrol units, selling them to other agencies. With the acquisition of the new cars, the department will also be auctioning off an older model Ford Crown Victoria that has too many miles to be a service car.

With the new cars in the budget, Lt. Norman Miller of the Scappoose Police Department said the department can give a GMC Yukon it was using to the city’s water department. The water department could then give one of its pick-up trucks to the city’s Public Works Department, he said.

The new Dodge Chargers will be pursuit-rated vehicles. Miller said the total cost for the purchase is $140,153, but the sale of the Tahoes will serve as a $20,000 down payment on the cars.

Miller suggested that, with the vehicle purchase, the city could create a reserve fund in its budget for police vehicles. The city’s practice of leasing police vehicles is not cost-effective, he said.

“In three years, we’d be able to purchase patrol vehicles outright, rather than leasing them” Miller said.

Despite its unanimous approval, the purchase request came as a surprise to some of the councilors.

“None of this came up during budget talks,” Councilor Barbara Hayden said. Her concerns were echoed by Council President Larry Meres, who was adamant about keeping the city’s logo on the new vehicles.

“Why Dodge Chargers?” Hayden asked. “Over the years, unless they have vastly improved, Dodges have not been a very reliable car.”

Miller explained that Ford no longer produces the Crown Victoria models, which have been used as police patrol cars across the country for years. He said the station has one Dodge that has proved to be a reliable patrol unit.

The lieutenant also suggested keeping the new cars a solid black, rather than a two-tone paint, making the cars easier to sell once they are decommssioned for police use.

Councilor Jason Meshell said the newly formed law enforcement oversight committee talked about the purchase with Miller and supported the expenditure.

“In multiple [Personnel Review Committee] committee meetings, council very vehemently stated we don’t want any vehicles operating that aren’t pursuit-rated,” Meshell told his fellow councilors.

Miller confirmed Thursday that the purchasing process has already begun.

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