Rockford City Council approves police request for 32 new squad cars

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Rockford’s Finance and Personnel Committee gives new police squad cars the green light, council members voted Monday to approve the purchase of 32 law enforcement vehicles. The million dollar cost would be funded through a leasing program.

“[The program] allows us to spread the expense over a wider range of time,” said 12th Ward Alderman John Beck. “[That way] it doesn’t have as a dramatic budget hit when we have to buy new vehicles.”

Rockford Police Assistant Deputy Chief Doug Pann says the department has an aging fleet. The purchase would help replace a variety of vehicles.

“Marked squad cars, unmarked squad cars,” said Pann. “Vehicle for detectives to drive, vehicles for crime scene units and our prisoner transport, so it’s really an array of vehicles.”

Rockford Police wasn’t able to buy any new squads between 2014 and 2018 due to budget restraints.

“We have to keep the vehicles up to par for the officers to arrive safely on scene,” said Pann. “If you call the police, you need us to get there and we need the equipment to do that.”

New equipment, like dash cameras, were also approved. Pann says the recording tools protect community members and police officers.

“Everything that they do is in the public eye,” explained Pann. “It needs to be documented, we need to have the evidence when we’re making arrests. We also need to have documentation of everything that happens the best that we can.”

The city’s goal is to equip the entire department’s patrol.

“If the technology is available and it’s affordable, we certainly want our officers to have access to it,” said Beck. “It’s just the new times, things improve and evolve.”

The squad car purchase is up for vote at full council next Monday. If approved, Rockford Police hope to have the new squads out by the fall.

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