Powder Springs police chief wants new cars
by Marcus E. Howard
mhoward@mdjonline.com
January 29, 2012 12:08 AM | 3490 views | 17 17 comments | 17 17 recommendations | email to a friend | print
POWDER SPRINGS — Powder Springs police Chief Charlie Sewell says his officers are placing themselves in danger whenever they drive their worn out patrol cars.

Sewell, who has been reshaping the department since his swearing-in last July, said the city is in desperate need of replacing its 14 police cars, which are above the recommended mileage limit of 60,000 miles. The average mileage of the cars, purchased between 2005 and 2008, is 92,000 miles, with some having as many as 150,000 miles, he said.

Whenever an officer needs to respond to a citizen’s emergency call, that officer is putting his or her life at risk in a high-mileage vehicle whose engine runs 24-hours a day and undergoes more stress than the average person’s vehicle, said Sewell.

“Because of the requirement to respond to calls for service in the manner in which we do, often we’re going over curbs or having to negotiate railroad crossings faster than we would in non-emergency situations,” he said.

In addition, there are not enough patrol cars for all of the department’s 29 officers, which means they have to share vehicles. So when an officer finishes his or her shift, another officer will hop into the same car that is constantly running, Sewell said.

“We don’t have a maintenance division in the police department, so anytime we have a car worked on, that takes two police officers out of service to take that car to a shop, whether that be to our Public Works to let them change the oil or do minor service on,” said Sewell.

“But someone has to pick up that officer and bring him back to his or her patrol car.”

The police chief said $44,000 was budgeted to his department this fiscal year for repairs to the fleet of Ford Crown Victoria cars. As of Jan. 5, the department had already spent 51 percent of that budget, Sewell said.

A fully-equipped patrol car is estimated to cost around $30,000.

As a way to save money over time, Sewell recently presented a plan to the Powder Springs City Council at its Dec. 28 work session that includes the city leasing its patrol cars as opposed to buying pricey new ones on a regular basis. That way, fresh cars would be rotated in the police fleet.

Sewell said a three-year lease purchase, offered at a low interest rate from the Georgia Municipal Association, would cost about $5,000 a month or less than $60,000 annually for five preferably Chevrolet cars and another five cars in July. Three new cars would be leased every fiscal year to maintain fresh patrol cars.

Councilwoman Rosalyn Neal said last week that she and her fellow council members have not made a decision on whether to replace the patrol cars. Currently, the city is preparing its budget for fiscal year 2013, which begins July 1.

“What happens with a lot of cities is that they think because times are tough financially, we’ll just cut back on buying police cars,” said Sewell. “But what happens is it gets more expensive in the long run because your maintenance costs skyrocket.”

Comments
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VFP42
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January 30, 2012
If the police chief want a new car, tell him just find some people driving new cars, pull them over, "Find" a bag of cocaine in the new car, seize the car, you have a new car. Why do he want cars anyhow when cars aint allowed on the Silver Comet's trail and that is where all the crime at (other than the culinary crimes perpetuated on the good citizens of Powder Springses by the likes of McDonald and Dunkin Doughnut Krispy Kreem etc
<Mike
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January 30, 2012
First, Cobb County Sheriff Deputies are basically jailers, they have no patrol division. Second, Cobb County PD is stretched pretty thin, I called them recentley and it took them over 30 minutes to respond. Austell may not be the most professional but at least they will show up when called and fast!
Mike C
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January 30, 2012
I guess you have no clue what a sheriffs offices does. Useless to try to educated you. Thank god you live in Austell!!! Don't move across the line please..
anonymous
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January 30, 2012
Please enlighten me, how large of a PATROL division does the S.O. have? I have lived in Cobb for over 30 years, I have never seen a Sheriff's Patrol Unit. I know they have sheriff cars that serve court papers but I know for a fact they have no actual PATROL units, that is why we have a Cobb County Police Department.
Give me a break
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January 30, 2012
Chief Sewell did not say "replace the cars at 60,000 miles". Rotating cars with 90,000 to 150,000 miles out of the fleet seems very reasonable to me and safer for the troops.

Also remember he did not write the article and probably did not go to the newspaper. Chief Sewell is a good and decent man who only wants the troops to be safe and well equipment as budgets allow.

PS Citizen
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January 30, 2012
Maybe some of that money Chief Sewell used replacing the patch and uniforms of the officer could have been better used toward equipment that was necessary. I think Chief Charlie wants all new stuff so it is truly his department!
Why????????
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January 30, 2012
Just let the Sheriff's Office handle patrols there, its what they do every 10 years or so when Austell PD goes corrupt again. Hell they just arrested a Sgt from there last year for stealing money from drunks he arrested on 278. They dont need a PD, its a money pit and a waste. The Sheriff by law has to patrol when the city pd vanishes. Will not be a big deal at all. The S.O has over 1,000 employees. They already house all of powdersprings' inmates.

Seriously 60k on your cars that is HILARIOUS!! At the S.O. I just got a "new" car with 89k on it. There is no reason they cant run the cars north of 140. The S.O. used to retire them at 145K. They ran just fine. We now run them to 200k. Properly maintained and driven there is no problem. Sure its not new, but it works. Just let the S.O. take that over too. It will save money.
Ole Man
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January 30, 2012
I agree with agressive course. The city police department should be disbanded. Let the county police and sherrif departments handle the city. I have observed some of the city police officers failing to obey speed limits on residential streets, going at least 20 miles an hour over the posted speed limit.

Forget new police cars. The tax payers in the city can not afford them.
PS Resident
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January 30, 2012
I don't remember this being a problem with our former police chief. Maybe our new police chief needs to go speak with his mayor (cause she isn't mine) and see if they can purchase some new cars from their own personal account. Seems Rick Richardson had this under control, but that wasn't good enough for the mayor.
PowderSpringsWatcher
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January 30, 2012
Powder Springs just spent a boatload of taxpayer money on a "new" police station and now the "new" chief of police wants "new" cars. Lets be clear Chief "BARNEY" Sewell, the taxpayers are tapped out, between the city, county, state and Fed's we are BROKE! Maybe your not, feeding at the public trough and all but we are!
Fire Him
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January 29, 2012
Chief Sewell needs his butt fired if he is running to the media to complain about city business. If I were the mayor andf council and he did that, I'd give him his walking papers immediately. Does he think Powder Springs is the only department driving junk cars in these trying times? All he has to do is give Marietta or Cobb a call and he'll find they are driving junk too. A good friend of mine at Marietta PD told me the city hasn't budgeted for one single police car in over 5 years and their fleet is pure trash now. It's part of life in bad budgetary times.
ccpdinsider
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January 29, 2012
So Powder Springs PD have patrol cars with 60,000 miles on them and that makes them un safe? Cobb Pd is running their fleet with police cars that have over 180,000 miles and they continue to fix them and send them back out. Powder Springs is such a small area to patrol that I dont think 60,000 miles is un safe. Cobb police cars are unsafe.
PS Citizen
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January 29, 2012
My husband's vehicle has almost 200,000 miles on it, and he drives 55 miles one-way to work daily. I suppose his life could be in danger if it broke down on I-285. Mine has 165,000 miles on it. We are doing the responsible thing and waiting until the economy turns to purchase new vehicles. The taxpayers of Powder Springs are struggling, if they have jobs at all, Mr. Police Chief, and cannot be milked for any more money.

I want our police officers to be safe, too, but they may have continue maintaining their cars a little longer, like the rest of us.

I also disagree with the statement in your article that says that maintaining cars is more expensive in the long run. Even a brand new transmission costs around $2,500, considerably less than a $30,000 police cruiser. The fact is that the cheapest car to own is the one that a person is currently driving.

Perhaps if we can get a president elected who creates jobs instead of pork-barrel handouts, more tax dollars will be generated for new police cars.
Mike Jones
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January 29, 2012
My car has almost 300,000 miles on it and it drives just fine. Everywhere I look I see County and City employees driving nicer cars than the taxpayers drive. Enough already 60,000 miles is a joke.
Old timer
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January 30, 2012
My. Ad has that many mile also, but that does not mean it is safe for a police officer to drive one that way.Bet
anonymous
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January 29, 2012
--RE: Whenever an officer needs to respond to a citizen’s emergency call, that officer is putting his or her life at risk in a high-mileage vehicle whose engine runs 24-hours a day and undergoes more stress than the average person’s vehicle, said Sewell.--

Gotta love a police chief who does not mind being melodramatic in order to get some shiney new cars. It is the sign that you can count on them to be straight with you when they say something, right?

I guess all those police officers that are supposedly fleeing the ranks of CCPD because of the "horrible" pay and treatment could start flocking to Powder Springs now.
Agressive Course
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January 29, 2012
Here's a thought for your citizens:

Close the city police department and let the Cobb County Police or Cobb County Sheriff's Department handle the law enforcement workload. I only say this because Cobb County already provides you EMS and fire support and 911 dispatch services.

It seems like a money saver since you only employ 29 full time officers, which is dwarfed by the 600 man Cobb County Police Department officers and another 400-500 Cobb County Sheriff's Deputies.

I'll be interested to hear some feedback on this idea.

Best of luck getting more money out of the dry well for cars, but I sincerely hope your officers use good judgement knowing their vehicles are well used for their own safety too.
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