DES MOINES, IA – Des Moines taxpayers will pay more than $220,000 for eight new hybrid police cars — a move officials said could save thousands of dollars as gasoline prices remain high, according to the Des Moines Register newspaper. The eight Honda Accord hybrid vehicles will be part of a pilot program to evaluate whether such vehicles are more cost-efficient than other police-owned vehicles.

The Des Moines Police Department spends about $680,000 a year in gas on the 380 vehicles it uses, and, overall, the city spends about $1.2 million a year on gas.

“Our cost of gas is going up for city vehicles, which dramatically increases the cost of our ability to perform our job,” Police Chief Bill McCarthy said, as quoted in the Des Moines Register. “We are just looking for ways to reduce those costs.”

McCarthy said the new vehicles were needed because Homeland Security officials took several SUVs from detectives and other nonpatrol personnel to accommodate their equipment needs. The total cost for the hybrids is $221,064. If the program proves to be cost-effective, the police department might buy more hybrids in the future — and possibly electric vehicles.

The City Council recently approved the purchase of the vehicles, and each hybrid will be used by at least two detectives. The department is expected to keep the hybrids until they reach 100,000 miles — a very different plan than for other unmarked police vehicles.

Unmarked vehicles, typically used by nonpatrol officers, are usually kept for 10 years regardless of mileage, according to the Des Moines Register. Patrol cars are exchanged every two years, sometimes sooner, depending on their condition.

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