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Council buys new vehicles for BPS

The Bainbridge City Council has voted to replace much of the fleet of vehicles operated by the city’s Public Safety Division, although there was some discussion on the vehicles’ models.

The council unanimously voted to approve a bid of $349,853.29 from Riverbend Ford of Bainbridge to purchase 12 new Ford Crown Victorias to be used as BPS patrol cars. However, the council’s vote was 5-1 on a separate bid for three vehicles to be used by the department’s investigators, $75,591 from Hardy Family Ford of Dallas, Ga.

Councilwoman Roslyn Palmer, who cast the lone vote against the bid, asked whether the city should buy its investigators two Ford Expeditions included along with a souped-up Ford Crown Victoria in the second bid.

Palmer, in similar purchases of city vehicles in the past, has alluded to concerns over the economy and the high cost of fuel. On Tuesday evening, she asked whether it would be appropriate to buy a sport utility vehicle “at this point.”

City Manager Chris Hobby said BPS investigators have been using SUVs confiscated from criminals; however, they have high mileage on them. He said that because of the nature of investigative work, detectives need more cargo space and a higher vehicle clearance.

Councilman Greg Waddell said purchasing “flashy SUVs” might create the wrong perception but later added he wanted Public Safety officers to have “the best resources available.”

Mayor Mark Harrell said he believed the council needed to give the officers the tools they need to do their jobs.

Councilman Joe Sweet said he supported giving them whatever is necessary due to a rise in property theft and robberies.

Palmer said she had noticed Tallahassee Police Department detectives using smaller SUVs on a recent visit.

According to Ford’s Web site, the 2010 Ford Expedition has a 5.4 L V8 engine, which has an estimated fuel efficiency of 14 miles per gallon for city driving and 20 miles per gallon on the highway. It can seat up to eight people.

The Ford Crown Victoria, which is only sold to fleet customers, has an estimated fuel efficiency of 15 miles per gallon for city driving and 23 miles per gallon on the highway. It can seat up to six people.