SEBASTIAN – The Sebastian Police Department will auction off seven old vehicles in its fleet to make room for seven newer units.
The department received the Sebastian City Council’s unanimous support without discussion or debate at a recent meeting.
While the police department has enough budgeted to replace 10 vehicles, police officials found that only seven are currently needed.
The new units will replace three Ford vehicles, including a repurposed Ford ambulance that had been servings as the police department’s mobile command unit.
In an effort to save money, the department chose to replace four Chevy Impalas with Malibus, which, according to Police Chief Michelle Morris, will save the department nearly $6,600 in cost alone.
The department also expects to save on fuel, as the Malibu has a 4-cylinder engine instead of the 6-cylinder of the Impala, “providing for superior fuel economy,” she wrote in city documents presenting her proposal to the Sebastian City Council.
Chief Morris also told the council in documents that she wanted to switch from the Ford Expedition for K-9 units to the Chevy Tahoe, though it would mean spending $154 more.
She explained that the K-9 Chevy Tahoe has a lower center of gravity than the Expedition, which would mean less risk of a vehicle roll over during pursuit. It would also mean the K-9 would have less stress to its hips as it deploys from the lower vehicle, extending the animal’s work life.
Chief Morris also said the K-9 Ford Expeditions are not pursuit rated and have raised concerns among the K-9 officers. The K-9 Chevy Tahoe, however, is pursuit rated.
The Sebastian Police Department will also replace its 1995 retired Ford Ambulance, which has been used as the department’s Mobile Command Unit.
Instead of a retrofitted ambulance, Chief Morris plans to purchase a Chevy Extended 2500 Express Cargo Van.
The vehicle would continue to be used as a mobile command unit as well as transportation for the department’s Special Response Team to events, and officers and equipment to training and special events.
The Sebastian Police Department did consider replacing a few of the vehicles in the fleet with hybrids but chose against it due to the cost, according to Deputy Chief Greg Witt.
Deputy Chief Witt was tasked with reviewing the hybrid possibilities and reported back to Chief Morris that the hybrids would cost the department nearly $7,000 more than the Chevy Malibus, which could have been hybrids.
He explained in correspondence to the chief that the cost outweighs the benefits. Deputy Chief Witt said the hybrids’ better fuel economy would be “negligible.” He also said that once the vehicles are off the warranty, they become expensive to maintain and require special training.
Also, many hybrid manufacturers would not allow for electronics – such as sirens and lights – to be wired into the vehicle’s system without voiding the warranty.
Deputy Chief Witt told Chief Morris that the one manufacturer that would allow the electronics to tie in is Toyota, with its Camry.
Those issues, along with “the fact that Toyota is currently experiencing malfunction issues with its Camry that have not been identified or corrected,” Deputy Chief Witt said he could not recommend buying hybrids for the Sebastian Police Department at this time.
Along with spending nearly $150,000 on seven new vehicles, the Sebastian Police Department expects to spend another $50,000 to outfit the units with full equipment, including graphics and video systems, radars, computers, lights and sirens, and emergency medical items.
Sebastian Police Department fleet replacement by the numbers
# Units Unit Cost Vehicle Total Cost