Jefferson City police seek new SWAT vehicle

Municipal court minimum fines may be increased

The Jefferson City Police Department is hoping to make its first capital purchase from the latest sales tax installment: a $246,000 SWAT vehicle.

At the Public Safety Committee meeting Thursday, the department outlined the SWAT purchase officials would like to make with funds from the capital improvement half-cent sales tax that are allocated for public safety.

Lt. Steve Weaver said the department would like to purchase a BearCat, a fully armored SWAT vehicle with highest level of armor available.

Weaver said in 2012, the department issued 45 narcotics search warrants, which is when a SWAT vehicle is used most often in the area. So far in 2013, Weaver said, 12 narcotics search warrants have been issued.

Chief Roger Schroeder said the city’s SWAT team is the most-used Central Missouri team outside of Columbia. Weaver said the city provides SWAT response to the nuclear plant in Callaway County, as well as Cole County hazmat.

“It’s hard to explain how good our SWAT team is,” Schroeder said. “They’re just very, very good.”

Weaver said the department currently has a 1985 Peacekeeper vehicle, which does not hold the entire SWAT team and can not make it to locations across town.

“We’re lucky if it starts,” Weaver said. “It’s not functional ... it’s pretty much useless.”

Schroeder said the Peacekeeper likely couldn’t be sold as surplus property as no one would want the vehicle.

“It’s unsafe and it’s not dependable, and those are understatements,” Schroeder said. “I don’t know who would want it.”

Schroeder said the new SWAT vehicle would be in use for many years and should be seen as an investment.

The committee approved the purchase, which will go to the full City Council for review.

In other business, the committee also sent a proposed bill to the full council that would increase a majority of minimum fines within the municipal court.

City attorney Drew Hilpert said the fee increase was suggested by City Prosecutor Brian Stumpe and most fines were increased by about 3 percent. The only fines not increased in the proposed bill are those related to parking. Hilpert said it’s been about five or six years since the city increased the fines and they were being adjusted to reflect a “more realistic penalty.”

“It’s been a while since we’ve increased them,” HIlpert said.

Stumpe said many of the fines are not high enough to recoup expenses by the city for enforcement. He said the increase would help make the fines more in line with other communities in the area.

Schroeder emphasized that crimes are not enforced to generate revenue, but to keep a safe community. Stumpe agreed, noting the fine is supposed to work as both a penalty and a deterrent to keep people from committing a crime again.

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