Government Fleet Top News

Safety of Police Tires Questioned in Colorado City

August 17, 2005

LAKEWOOD, CO – Most Lakewood Police patrol cars roll on tires not certified for law enforcement use and cost the city more than the model the vehicle manufacturer recommends, according to the Rocky Mountain News. The tires could affect the patrol cars' performance during high-speed pursuits, endangering officers and the public and increasing the city's potential liability, experts said in the Rocky Mountain News article. The tires are used on 90 of the city's 95 patrol cars, said Dick Plastino, Lakewood's public works director. They were selected, he said, because of longer tread life. The Goodyear tires cost the city $64.59 each. The model that Goodyear certifies for law enforcement use is priced at $62.44. The city bought about 360 of the tires for police cars, Plastino said, for a total of about $23,524, from the Goodyear Auto Service Center in Westminster. The city was warned about the potential liability and safety risks in a July 12 letter from local Goodyear tire dealer Gerald Young to Mayor Steve Burkholder. "The city of Lakewood purchases tires 'not suitable for law enforcement' and installs them on police cars, putting the police officers, the city and the general public at unnecessary risk," Young's letter said. But city officials did not alert Police Chief Ron Burns about the concerns until the Rocky Mountain News called for information this week. Burns said the city administration, not police, handles the purchase of patrol car tires. Burns said that a detective has been assigned to look into that allegation. The tires purchased for the Lakewood Police fleet, Goodyear Eagle GA P22 5/60R16 97T – are not designated for police use, Goodyear spokesman Jim Davis said in an e-mail. "The tire is not marketed by Goodyear as a police pursuit tire and therefore it has not been evaluated by the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center," Davis said. Any police agency that chooses to use the tires should develop a pursuit policy that takes into account the tire's capabilities, he added. Davis said the Ford Crown Victoria vehicles in the police fleet require a "V" speed-rated tire capable of handling speeds up to 149 mph. The Eagle GA tires purchased by Lakewood in the past two years carry a "T" speed rating of up to 118 mph. Although Burns said it is unlikely that any of his officers would need to exceed the tires' speed rating, a number of industry Web sites warn that using tires with lower speed ratings can result in handling, steering, and cornering problems.

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