BLACKFOOT – Police Chief Kurt Asmus presented different options to the Blackfoot City Council for the Blackfoot Police Department to change from purchasing their vehicles outright to a lease program through Bankcorp. The program would allow the Blackfoot Police Department to lease vehicles for five year terms and the vehicles would be delivered with the required equipment and decals.
Asmus explained the differences in cost for using specific makes and models as well as concerns about the functionality. He used the cost difference between the Ford Explorer and the Dodge Durango as an example; the Explorer is roughly $7,000 more to purchase than a Durango. Adding to his point, he explained that Ford is halting production on quite a few different makes and models, leaving the options to be less than in previous years. "I don't know if we need a full fleet of SUVs and pickups," Amsus stated in reference to the cost of different sports utility models. Asmus later added that in the near future, all police vehicles may default to being SUVs and trucks.
Within his presentation, he explained that the city had forgone purchasing three new cruisers this past year, and to keep with the need for one car per officer, they will be needing to add at least five new vehicles to their department in the next budget. In his analysis, Asmus explains the cost of the vehicles to the council and the different ways the leasing business passes savings on to the department.
Preemptively addressing any concerns about the options available, Asmus explained his lack of faith in the practicality of the Dodge Charger as a police cruiser in Idaho. Where the vehicle is rear-wheel drive and low to the ground, Idaho winters could become a problem for community policing. Even with the Charger models being manufactured in all-wheel drive from now on, the concerns about clearance remain. Asmus added that in this area, the need for four-wheel or all-wheel drive for safety reasons helps sway his decisions toward wanting to explore this option.
With the sale of the vehicle in mind at the end of the lease term, the business only charges a set amount for the use of the vehicles, allowing the city to avoid the costly dips in finances when purchasing new units. Asmus uses the number of $8000 for the cost of one vehicle through the leasing program, allowing the leasing of up to six vehicles for under $50,000. In comparison, purchasing new vehicles, even with the governmental rates for purchasing, would be closer to that after the costs of outfitting the cruiser and placing the logos on the vehicle. Asmus added that detective take-home vehicles would most likely not need to be exchanged at the end of the five year program, as they do not undergo the same amount of use as the patrol vehicles. The leasing options also allow for lease-to-purchase options at the end of their term according to Asmus.
Furthering his position of being in favor of going to the leasing program, Asmus explained that the vehicles come with a four-year, 100,000-mile warranty, leaving the vehicle only out of warranty one year during the possession of the cruiser.
Asmus explained that he has been in contact with other police forces that are using this program and expressed their experiences, all of which had been positive.
Rounding out his presentation, Asmus explained that the Bingham County Sheriff's Office will be going to this program as well.
Currently, the Blackfoot Police Department purchases cruisers outright, has them drop-shipped to a business in Salt Lake City, Utah, to be outfitted with the required gear for their patrol vehicles. The cost to outfit one cruiser is upward of $15,000 according to Asmus. Once the vehicles have lived their lives as patrol units, they eventually are auctioned off to the highest bidder. According to Asmus, they are finding that a substantial amount of old police cruisers from the area are being purchased and used as patrol vehicles in Florida. The age of the vehicle does not seem to be a deterrent because the salt in the air rusts the vehicles.
The information will be discussed and decided on for the 2020 budget.