Government Fleet Top News

Hawaii Debates Whether to Provide Officers With County-Owned Police Cars

January 18, 2006

HILO, HAWAII – Big Island officials are once again considering moving their police officers out of their privately owned cars with the blue lights mounted on top and into county-owned, marked police cruisers, according to The Honolulu Advertiser.Kauai and Maui have shifted over to county-owned police vehicles, and Oahu officers use a mix of private vehicles and county-owned police cars. But the Big Island has just a handful of police vehicles that are used to haul prisoners. Instead, the Big Island Police Department pays about $4.7 million a year to Big Island officers to compensate them for using their own cars for patrol and other police duty.Results from a 2003 study, prepared by West Hawaii CrimeStoppers, contends that county-owned marked cars give police higher visibility, large numbers of tourists visiting the island expect to see marked cars, marked cars would be cheaper for the county, and they would also deter crime. However, some say a county-owned fleet would cost more. Shifting to a fleet of 369 county-owned vehicles over the next five years would cost the county about $27.5 million, or about $3.87 million more than the county would pay over the same period if it continues with the subsidized vehicle program, according to according to The Honolulu Advertiser report. Big Island police have studied the possibility of switching to marked patrol cars at least four times in the last 30 years.

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