Federal Money Won’t Always Be Available To Buy City Equipment
Jamestown isn’t in a position to add a bevy of new police officers or firefighters.
At the very least, then, the city should do its part to make sure the officers and firefighters the city is able to employ have the tools they need to do their job.
That doesn’t mean public safety’s needs should be addressed through this year’s city budget. But the council shouldn’t dilly dally in approving the urgent needs of the city police department’s aging vehicle fleet with a portion of the city’s federal stimulus funding.
Three of the department’s patrol vehicles have more than 100,000 miles, which includes vehicles with 162,572, 131,910 and 125,017 miles respectively, as of the end of October. The department also has a vehicle with more than 91,000 miles. Those vehicles are an issue for officers who need to be able to drive to calls safely as well as for city residents who call police and are counting on them to have vehicles that will answer the call.
This is an issue that can be dealt with somewhat easily this year thanks to the federal government’s generosity.
But what happens when the Presidents Trump and Biden aren’t around to throw federal stimulus dollars around board game money?
Since 2011, the city has purchased one new police department vehicle as part of the annual budget, with any other purchases made with asset forfeiture money. As Tim Jackson, city police chief, has said often during this budget season, asset forfeiture isn’t a dependable source of revenue from year-to-year — and the police department’s vehicles are on the road whether there’s money to replace them or not.
The city must find money to create a true equipment policy rather than relying on federal largesse or doing the municipal equivalent of looking in the couch cushions for long-forgotten pennies and dimes.