CASPER, WY – At a recent city council meeting for the City of Casper, Wyo., council members and the City's police chief discussed a plan to purchase an additional 42 marked police vehicles and make them available as take-home vehicles for the police department’s officers.

According to City meeting documents, Casper's Police Chief Chris Walsh, said the program would reduce fuel and maintenance costs, increase effective patrol time, officer morale, and allow officers to respond to any major events with all the City’s police officers. The police department would assign a single officer per vehicle.

Currently, the City plans to spend $2.37 million on 30 Ford Interceptor all-wheel-drive patrol cars and 12 Ford Interceptor Utility SUVs. The city council discussed the potential funding sources for the new vehicles, and Walsh suggested using excess optional sales tax funds. Casper City Manager John Patterson suggested using the City’s $1.8 million in surplus funds to purchase the vehicles and would keep the City from having to use optional sales tax funding.

The city council also discussed whether to purchase the vehicles all at once or budget a smaller amount for this year and supplement that amount in the following year. Walsh said purchasing the vehicles all at once would allow for potential savings from a volume purchase of equipment for the vehicles.

In terms of labor savings, City Manager Patterson said the program would effectively provide 4,000 hours of patrol time per year, as officers would be “on patrol” during their commutes.

For officers, Walsh said they would need their badge, handcuffs, and a weapon while driving the vehicles. They would be required to respond to “off-duty” calls in the case of calls where a person or people were in danger but not for minor calls such as traffic violations. Also, officers would have to maintain a minimum dress code standard when driving the vehicles for personal use.

The Casper city council plans to formally vote on this plan on May 29.

By Greg Basich