More than one in five Dallas police patrol cars can’t hit city streets daily because they’re wrecked, broken down, or too worn for use, reports the Dallas Morning News. Officers say the situation leaves them waiting for drivable cars when they should be responding to calls. It inhibits their ability to fight crime in a city with the highest crime rate among the nation’s most populous cities. “Sometimes we’ve got 30 or 40 calls waiting to be responded to, and then I’ve got several officers waiting in line to get a squad car,” said Deputy Chief Floyd Simpson.
Problems with the decaying fleet are rooted in decisions by the City Council to postpone the replacement of worn vehicles. Squad cars are driven hard, fast and often around-the-clock. Officers leave them idling for long periods to run equipment, such as radios, computers, lights and sirens. “A car that has 100,000 on the odometer could easily have 200,000 on the engine,” because the cars are almost always running, said Sgt. Allan Brown, the fleet coordinator. Overall annual savings, now that cars are replaced after 125,000 miles, orabout five years, instead of every three years, is a little over $2 million. That doesn’t take into account lost police efficiency and increased maintenance costs on an older fleet, for which no cost analysis was available. In other cities, replacements can come as late at 150,000 miles, in Philadelphia, or as early as 60,000, as in San Antonio. A national fleet expert said most police agencies replace cars at about 100,000 miles.