MILFORD — Though there are available funds from a to-be-determined source, Milford police officers won’t be taking their duty vehicles home for at least nine months, maybe more.
Police Chief Kenneth Brown’s proposal to purchase 15 Ford Police Interceptor hybrid vehicles for $883,551.27 was unanimously approved by City Council on Nov. 8.
The officers assigned to the vehicles will be able to drive them between work and their homes. Two other previously purchased SUVs will also be included in the fleet.
The money to buy the vehicles can come from the city’s budget, American Rescue Plan Act funds or a mix of the two.
At a time when many law enforcement agencies are competing for the same limited pool of candidates, an incentive such as a take-home vehicle could keep an officer on the force or make it easier to bring a new one aboard.
“I really believe this will go a long way in our recruiting and retention,” Chief Brown told council at the end of his presentation.
Councilman Todd Culotta concurred, saying, “We all know that this is a very competitive environment in law enforcement and many businesses but, most importantly, law enforcement.
“With job satisfaction (comes) officer retention. I think it’s a great bargaining chip we have to attract (candidates) to the city of Milford. And at a time when cities are talking about defunding the police, I think we are showing right here that we support, we back the police, and that’s very important.”
An advantage to having one officer assigned to one vehicle, the councilman said, is that an officer “can be on the clock as soon as they leave their home. Instead of coming to work, getting dressed and (beginning) their shift and going and getting into another car that’s just been used, it just gives them a little bit more flexibility, and it also extends the life of the car itself over time.”
While Chief Brown referenced a nine-month time frame for take-home vehicles, Councilman Andrew Fulton opined that it could be months longer.
“The procurement of vehicles, even if they’re saying nine months, it could be longer than that because it is a delay with the manufacturer,” he said.
“We ordered vehicles where I work six months ago. They promised six months, and now, they’ve just contacted us last month and said (they are) delayed another six months.”
However, there are benefits to ordering now, even if a hoped-for delivery time is extended, Councilman Fulton said.
“(By) getting them ordered now, you’re locked into a price that you ordered them at, so you’re actually at a cost savings,” he said.
Ultimately, he added, “We know how important this program is to the viability (of the police department) and keeping our police officers, and I think we ... have agreed how important this was.
“Right now, we’re finding the cost savings within the budget ... for covering most of this. I think this is a great time to do this program.”