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Council Approves 4 Police Car Replacements

Department has decided to use Dodge Chargers on its fleet

Manchester's Township Council last week approved the purchase of four new police cars as the department continues to cycle vehicles in its fleet.

The 2012 Dodge Chargers requested by police will replace three aging and one damaged Ford Crown Victorias used by the Manchester Police Department which are no longer in production. The cost for the vehicles, which will be bought through the Cranford Police Cooperative Purchasing System, will not exceed $99,836, according to the purchase authorization resolution approved Tuesday evening.

Of the four cars, three will replace vehicles that have met or will soon reach their 100,000 mile usefulness limit. Another will replace a patrol car damaged in June when an allegedly intoxicated driver struck it, according to Chief of Police Brian Klimakowski. 

"If there's any value to those vehicles, they'll be passed down to our other departments like public works," said council Vice President Brendan Weiner.

Weiner said that it is also possible that the old vehicles will be sold at public auction, as is typically done with unneeded police department equipment as a means to recoup some money.

An insurance payment from the June crash will cover some of the cost of one new vehicle, the chief said.

About 30,000 miles are driven in each patrol car every year. Vehicles must be replaced annually to ensure that the police department does not end up with an aging fleet that needs immediate replacement, which would be a daunting task for the township, Klimakowski has said.

The township last approved the purchase of three Chargers in February — those cars only recently have been put into use by police. 

Some existing equipment will be re-purposed from the older cars to the new models. An additional approximately $5,000 per vehicle from the police department's operating budget will be spent to outfit them for service, Klimakowski said.

The new vehicles are expected to arrive in about three to four months, according to Klimakowski.

The chief has said that having 100,000 miles on a police car "is probably like having 300,000 miles on a regular car" because of the "the manner in which they're driven, the high speeds, the braking, in addition to the idling that a normal car never does."

The Charger is commonly used by police departments — including neighboring Lakehurst — and is "a good vehicle," said council President Craig Wallis in February when the first wave of replacements were approved. Though there were other options, administrators did not want to take a chance with unproven police vehicles.

"Chevy is going to come out with the Caprice [police version], but they haven't been tested," Wallis said. "When they come out with a new police vehicle, do you want to be the testbed for it? The Dodges have been out there for a while."

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