About 10 Jefferson City Police Peace Officers Association members attended the Jefferson City Budget Committee meeting Thursday evening to show support affirming the Jefferson City Police Department's police car request is in the Fiscal Year 2020 budget.
City departments submit pink sheet items for requests to the mayor-approved FY2020 budget, which begins Nov. 1.
The Police Department submitted 19 pink sheets — a total of nearly $739,803 — and none of them were funded in the mayor-approved budget.
The department requested to replace 13 police vehicles for a total of $528,190.
Ward 4 Councilman Carlos Graham requested funding six police vehicles and one police officer for a total of $302,178.57.
Jeremy Bowman, association president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 19, addressed the board regarding the safety concern for patrol cars approaching more than 140,000 miles.
"One of our missions for our members is to ensure their safety," Bowman said. "I think a common assumption of safety is a functioning firearm, proper pepper spray, that our handcuffs are up to date, that our Tasers are up to date, our laptops in our cars, our dash cameras, well functioning and up-to-date K9s — things that bring safety to us. But I think one of the most overlooked items of safety is patrol cars."
Bowman explained high mileage is typically how vehicle owners determine the condition of a vehicle. Patrol cars are used at a different standard — taking sharp turns, heavy acceleration, heavy braking and sitting idle, which damage the engine, he said.
"I just ask the committee to consider when you look at your sheets and you see mileage and think it's much more than mileage," Bowman said.
Jefferson City Police Department talks vehicles, officer funding requests during budget meetingRead more
The other tools are important, he said, however, arriving safely to their destinations is the top priority in protecting the community.
"I know that sometimes we look at the service of things — we see it's just cars and we see it's just personnel," Graham said. "I think hearing it from the individuals who are on the street, individuals who are out there to protect us and trying to protect us as they do their job for the City of Jefferson."
Jason Ambler, executive vice president of the Fraternal Order of Police, added the vehicles function as an office for police, where 90 percent of their work takes place.
If officers are confident that vehicles can assist in doing their jobs, this increases productivity and a level of safety, he said.
"Safe vehicles continue a level of safety that your citizens, the people that elect you, have known to love and demand from us," Ambler said. "We want to continue that. As President Bowman said, when you see a clean vehicle, that is a reflection of the officer; that's a reflection of their dedication to the job. You cannot give any bearing on how clean a vehicle is on the outside to the direct correlation to the engine, suspension and any vital parts of the car that cause the wear and tear."
To add to the cause, Ambler said crimes are increasing in amount and severity in Jefferson City. While handling their difficult jobs, officers need vehicles that can handle chases and responses to emergencies, he said.
He asked the committee to proceed with caution on the subject in an effort to keep the city's status as a prime location for officers to serve.
Graham serves as the chairman of the Jefferson City Public Safety Committee. He said it's up to the committee to prioritize the safety of officers.
Ward 5 Councilman Jon Hensley agreed the police vehicles are different than civilian cars.
"I'm sure that we're all in agreement that funding as many of these vehicles as we can possibly find a way to do is a priority," Hensley said.
During a close experience of seeing a pursuit on East Dunklin Street, he said the smell of the rubber and oil was one he will never forget.
"We're talking about two different types of animals here when we're talking about these vehicles," Hensley said.
The committee plans to continue the discussion on the police vehicles.
In other business, the police department previously requested $14,917 to add a radio tower at 4346 Rainbow Drive to improve radio reception in the Ventura Avenue, Del Ray Avenue and Candlelight Drive area. The pink sheet was not funded in the FY2020 mayor-approved budget.
Police Chief Roger Schroeder told the committee Thursday that the items should be removed from their requests.
"We put some effort into reducing the cost working with (Jefferson City) Public Works (Department)," Schroeder said. "We've been successful and they're going to work with us and we're going to find the money."
The department owns an 80-foot tower and radio broadcast equipment for the project, according to the pink sheet. The department would need to purchase an antenna, cable, rack and shed, as well as erect the tower, to complete the project, the pink sheet notes.
The portable radios officers carry are unable to communicate with the 911 communication center in the areas mentioned, according to the pink sheet.
The overall proposed mayor-approved budget for FY2020 is more than $65.1 million. The general fund budget for FY2020 is more than $32.9 million.