A new Ford Police Interceptor Utility Vehicle “Unit 80” has been added to the Ripon Police Department’s fleet of aging patrol cars and it didn’t cost taxpayers a cent – thanks to a group of citizens that raised some $51,650 to pay for the new vehicle.
Complete with the latest radar system – front and back – and other state of the art accessories such as a Noptic Thermal Imager that detects heat signatures in darkness and through smoke, a Federal Signal Lightbar atop the vehicle, the Utility Interceptor Vehicle was rolled out in front of the city’s police department’s dispatch center Wednesday afternoon. The donors that made it possible surrounded the vehicle to have their picture taken with the SUV and Ripon Police Chief Ed Ormonde.
The police car was purchased for $49,293. The remaining funds are being used to purchase response equipment for the vehicle such as a trunk organizer, traffic cones, flares and additional safety items.
Front and center for the photo of the 19 donors was propane company owners Rick and Valerie Van Unen who organized the fundraising effort to buy the new vehicle that will be driven by watch commander Sergeant Gordon West.
Van Unen contacted business owners, professionals and members of service clubs telling them they needed to help support the local police who have been responsible for making Ripon one of the safest cities in California.
Van Unen said his effort began about six months ago when he was sitting in his truck in the Save Mart parking lot in Ripon waiting for his wife when he spotted a Ripon police car drive into the area. He was shocked at how old it looked and that it was still being used on the streets. It and another patrol car had been added to the department’s fleet in 2002.
Van Unen phoned Chief Ormonde and asked for an explanation as to why dated cars like the one he had seen were still being used to police the community. He quoted the chief as saying the department’s budget had suffered greatly in the 2008 economic slowdown and it was impossible to buy any replacement cars for a couple of years – hence the older fleet.
The propane company owner started contacting the Ripon business and professional community, asking for support in his effort to purchase at least one new patrol car since it wasn’t in the city’s budget. He told them he couldn’t really do it by himself and he needed the help of others.
Van Unen said he checked to make sure the car hadn’t been budgeted in 2018 because he didn’t want it to be just an “add-on” that wasn’t really needed. It was definitely needed, he said having found out from the chief.
Ripon has 23 patrol cars – many are aged. Half of those units are taken home by officers who live in Ripon as a high-profile preventative against home burglaries. Chief Ormonde said that the three community service officers each have a car with the chief and lieutenant each having unmarked administrative vehicles. The department also has four motorcycles, two electric and two Harley Davidsons – along with two ATVs for patrolling the banks of the Stanislaus River. A
According to Chief Ormonde the Van Unens donated half in the name of Van Unen Miersma Propane Inc. and half with a personal contribution that together matched what the total that members of the community had donated toward the police car. The other donors’ amounts ranged in individual contributions from $250 to $8,000, the chief added.
The remaining donors included the Fred A. Douma Family Trust, California Freight Sales, California Rock Crushers, Burkett’s Pool Plastering, Inc., R.L. Kamps Farms, Inc., David Hall Masonry, Inc., Tri-Valley Lending, Burns Truck and Trailer Services, Vermeulen & Company CPAs, Darryl and Michele Bartels, John Mangelos, Glenn Kahl, Phil and Donna Parks, Eddie Erdelatz, Windmill Septic, S & P. Ranch, LLC; River Oak Orchards and Ballard Brothers Enterprises.
The donors’ names and the names of their businesses will be noted on the vehicle as long as it remains in service on Ripon’s streets, the chief said. He added that he knew of no other community in California that saw its citizens step up to purchase a new police car for their department.
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