Monticello PD unveils new patrol vehicles
Mon, 04/27/2020 - 8:59am classified@mont...
Driving through town, citizens of Monticello may have noticed a new addition to the Monticello Police Department fleet of vehicles, they can expect two more.
“Normally every year we get a new vehicle,” said Monticello Police Chief Jason Akers. “We weren’t able to get any last year, so we are very thankful for the Mayor and the City Council for approving three for this year.”
According to Akers, the MPD fleet is getting older with mounting maintenance costs and high mileage on the existing vehicles.
“William West added up the miles on the cars of the existing fleet and we have enough miles to go around the earth at the equator thirteen times,” said Akers, who has been an advocate for updating the police department and their equipment. “The Council and the Mayor were very understanding of how important our vehicles are and I want to thank them for caring enough about us to get the best we can get. This is a good start and it will lower the maintenance costs.”
The three new vehicles are all black 2020 Dodge Durangos, with lights at the top of the windshield, removing the expense and restorative expense of a traditional light bar, the vehicle also features lights on the side view mirrors and six foot lettering in white that reads, “Police,” making the vehicle more visible.
“The vast majority of our accidents are on 425 so if we are having to block off a road you have roughly 6 feet of police letters that can be seen and they are reflective,” said Akers. This makes the vehicles “super visible from the side.”
By opting to not have a light bar, the department will not have to worry about the damage done to a vehicle once it is no longer in use as a patrol vehicle. No more holes in the roof or scratches and rust, which damages the vehicle, making it less useful past its days in the fleet and making it worth more if the department chooses to sell the vehicles after their time in the MPD patrol fleet. The vehicle also comes with many safety features that will help protect officers, prisoners or anyone else in the vehicle. One such feature locks a rifle or AR-15 in place with only the police officer knowing what to do to get the electronic cuff to open, giving access to the weapon.
“We think it is higher visibility,” said Akers about the new vehicle. “The change in the color is a lot cleaner and easily identifiable. When people see it, the police letters are huge so there is no doubt what it is. Lower profile from the front but from the side is ore visible.”
The Durango is roomier and has more room for transports, as well as having air vents in the back seat and an interior camera to go along with the dash cam.
“You have air vents in the back that blow straight down so they aren’t in a completely overly hot car,” sated Akers.
For Akers the goal is safety and professionalism and getting the best equipment and support for the department is one of the steps being taken to improve.
“High visibility and more professional looking,” said Akers of the vehicle. “We have gotten positive responses from people who have seen it. They like the change. Not too busy with a lot of stripes and that kind of stuff. It looks a lot more professional. We like to demand professionalism.”
By providing the most professional environment possible, Akers believes he is on the right track to making the department even more professional each day.
“We are working really hard every day to be a little better than yesterday,” Akers explained. “When you put officers in professional vehicles in an environment that is more professional, they will be more professional.”
The vehicle is also easier to make modifications to for the safety of MPD officers during the novel coronavirus pandemic. The cage extends from ceiling to floor, making it to where passengers can’t kick anything under the seat in an effort to hide something, and also making it easier to seal off the front compartment from the back compartment, but still allowing air to flow to the back.
“The cage runs all the way down to the floor,” said Akers. “A lot of cages you can reach under them but this one runs all the way to the floor. It totally seals off the back compartment. There is just that much less space for anyone to drop things out of their pockets and drop them under seat.”
Safety is paramount for Akers when it comes to his officers and on the suggestion from a representative of Drew Memorial Health System, the police department has rigged their vehicles to stop airflow from the front compartment to the back.
“They were worried about us and transporting prisoners,” said Akers, who has now had all the department vehicles rigged up to try and circumvent a virus being spread by prisoners or officers.
According to Akers, Mayor Paige Chase and the City Council get how important it is to the officers and the city to have newer vehicles.
“The (officers) need reliable transportation, people’s lives depend on them getting to a call on time,” Akers concluded. “Businesses and thefts, when they call for an officer they need them now and don’t need to worry about a vehicle having mechanical issues. The Council and the Mayor have been so good at helping us to get where we are and to continue to move toward the future.