BASEHOR, KS - Police Chief Terry Horner says his department is behind the curve and trying to play catch up when it comes to patrol cars, according to Basehor Sentinel.

During a recent Basehor City Council meeting, Horner presented a few different options to replace some of the older or higher-mileage vehicles, as well as one with a blown engine. "This is a plan that would address some of the vehicle fleet situation and work toward a situation where we could replace our vehicles at lower mileages," City Administrator Carl Slaugh said. "We have purchased two new vehicles in the past two years and have budgeted another one in 2008. We're still a little bit behind schedule in replacing some of the older vehicles."

Horner said the city did not purchase any new patrol cars between 2003 and 2006. Three out of the seven in the fleet have more than 120,000 miles and two others will be nearing the 100,000-mile mark soon. A 2003 Ford Crown Victoria that recently broke down has a little more than 142,000 miles.

Sgt. Greg Hallgrimson pointed out that police vehicles age faster because they idle for long periods of time and sometimes run 16 to 24 hours straight before they are turned off. Horner said the older cars are costing the city money. The department already has spent more than $19,000 in maintenance fees this year.

He pushed for a plan that calls for purchasing two new vehicles before the end of the year and another one in 2008. A shortage of full- and part-time staff, he said, has created extra funds that could be used to purchase one of the vehicles this year. Funds could be transferred from other police line items to pay for the other car, and the city has already budgeted for a new car in 2008.

While he also pushed for Crown Victorias, one plan called for a Chevrolet Impala to replace the chief's vehicle, a 1997 Crown Victoria. Impalas cost less, but Horner said it would end up costing the city more because most of the fleet is made up of Crown Victorias and the equipment, such as cages and light bars, would not be interchangeable with the two vehicles.

"The city of Tonganoxie has them and has had decent luck with them," Horner said about Impalas. "But, at the Law Enforcement Training Center, officers have to pass an emergency vehicle operation course. They only train on Crown Vics at the academy." Council member Keith Sifford encouraged Horner to at least take a look at replacing the fleet with Impalas or Dodge Intrepids rather than continuing to purchase Crown Victorias.

The council approved, 5-0, to purchase one police vehicle now and another one in 2008. The chief was instructed to come back to the council next month with comparisons of the Crown Victoria and the Chevrolet Impala.