N4T Investigators: Officers concerned about TPD's aging fleet - KVOA | KVOA.com | Tucson, Arizona

N4T Investigators: Officers concerned about TPD's aging fleet

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For police officers, another day at the office means another day behind the wheel of their cruisers. From patrolling the streets to responding to emergency. And officers with the Tucson Police Department say, it's time to upgrade many of those vehicles.

Assistant Chief Carla Johnson tells us the department got a few new vehicles this year, like this Explorer, but the overall fleet has been in decline over the past decade.  

"The great recession put the city in a bind financially and we made decisions about where to spend the money," Johnson said. "We thought we will recover soon, we'll be able to buy cars next year. Now we're in this situation where our fleet is extremely old and expensive to run."  

The News 4 Tucson Investigators discovered some stats about the department's vehicles. We found that nearly half of them are over 10 years old. Since July, 26 of the department's vehicles were retired. 42% of its marked vehicles have over 100,000 miles, and 82% of their unmarked vehicles have surpassed the 100,000 mile mark. 

That mileage may not seem like a lot to the average citizen, but the average vehicle is usually not being run for hours on end and engaging in high speed pursuits. 

"When we're trying to get to a call expeditiously that call is not always on a paved street, sometimes you have to go over a curb, you have to go into the desert area, you have a lot of obstacles," Johnson said. "If they're sitting at a call or sitting at an intersection the engines are on and they're hot, and they're running for hours sometimes on end and that's not reflected in the actual mileage on the car."

Even worse off are their transport vans. 

"The transport vans have over 200,000 miles on them, and the equipment on them is old," Johnson said. "We have human beings in the back and if the air conditioning breaks down in Tucson, Arizona and we're transporting them to jail that's not a good thing for that person."

Officers tell us that the vans typically need about a 20 minute head start to cool down. The vents upfront are the only ones in the vehicle, and if the temperature inside exceeds 85 degrees, the vans can't be used at all. 

So where do they go from here? 

"We still don't have a budget that's gonna allow us to do major purchases of cars to the degree that we need to," Johnson said. 

Next month's special election on a half cent sales tax increase could solve the problem if voters elect to pass Proposition 101. If not, it's back to square one for TPD and their fleet issues. 

"I'm not sure what the solutions going to be if it doesn't pass." 

If you have a story you'd like us to investigate, email us at investigators@kvoa.com, or call our tip line at 520-955-4444.

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