Ripon Police’s patrol units are aging — one is 16 years old — and the city lacks funding to replace them in a timely manner.
It is what prompted three members of the Ripon Rotary Club to take out their checkbooks at the service club’s Wednesday meeting and donate $500 each toward the purchase of a new $51,000 police unit.
Ripon Police Chief Ed Ormonde outlined the department’s need to update their fleet of 21 cars. The oldest was purchased in 2001. The city was unable to replace vehicles during a stretch of years when the Great Recession triggered a government funding crisis from 2009 through 2013. At the same time, population growth prompted the hiring of nine more officers.
The chief said officers continue to use patrol cars until they are no longer feasible to maintain before rotating them out of service.
“Some have as much as 85,000 miles, without including the parked idling time when an officer is out on a call – with thousands of idling hours,” Ormonde noted.
The units need to be kept idling due to onboard electronic equipment such as computers needed for warrant checks and such. Some agencies have noted turning off patrol units is impossible to do as it can take as long as 10 minutes to power devices back up.
Two new patrol cars were purchased last year at $51,000 each. Thirteen more cars need to be purchased to bring the department fleet up to its proper level.
“If we were to buy two a year, it would take a long time to replace 13,” the chief said.
Ormonde noted former Chief Richard Bull saw the need to buy more patrol cars in 2002 when he enacted the “take home” program for officers. They use the marked cars to go grocery shopping when off duty and performing other tasks such as going to the bank in a bid to create a higher police presence in the community.
Chief Ormonde also noted that the department’s drug detection dog is probably going to be phased out due to a lack of need. The one area the canine has been very effective is with the use in elementary and high school classes with both searches and demonstrations.
Ripon propane company owner Rick Van Unen went to bat for the Ripon Police Department at the meeting to spark the collection of $1,500 toward the purchase of a new police vehicle.
The former Marine also made a pitch for military retirees looking for jobs at the Wednesday noon meeting of the Ripon Rotary Club at Spring Creek Country Club.
Van Unen showed his empathy for service men and women who served their country and find it difficult to secure employment in the private sector. He aked Rotarians to think more about hiring retired and former military men and women.