Lynnwood Police Department proposes reducing fleet replacement schedule from five to four years

The Lynnwood Police Department has submitted three proposals related to vehicle replacement within its own fleet and its volunteer unit. The proposals were discussed at the City Council work session on March 17.

The first proposal Police Chief Steven Jensen talked about was a return to a four-year replacement schedule for the patrol division. Since 1995 the police patrol fleet has moved from a two- to a three- and then to a four-year replacement schedule.

During the recession the administration extended the patrol fleet an additional year to five years. This change was done without any consultation with the police or public works department.

Jensen said that the five-year replacement schedule has not proven to be workable for patrol vehicles. No other agency maintains a 24-hour, 7-day a week fleet for this duration. The police department has experienced catastrophic mechanical failures exceeding the value of the vehicles during the fifth year. Jensen recommended a return to a four-year replacement schedule.

The current fleet of vehicles used by police department volunteers is beyond its useful life and the department is no longer able to cycle outgoing police vehicles to its volunteers given the significant vehicle design changes over the years. The department and the city shop have determined that the Ford Escape is a suitable vehicle for volunteer usage.

The department is proposing to purchase three vehicles at a total cost of about $110,000. Funds for the purchase are available through a state Community Trade and Economic Development grant.

Two Councilmembers urged Jensen to look into the possibility of purchasing either hybrid or electrical vehicles for the volunteer corps.

Finally, Jensen noted that the police department is scheduled to replace five vehicles in 2014 and 17 vehicles in 2015. Retrofitting 17 cars in a single year has never been done and the shop estimated it would only be able to do 12 vehicles. Purchasing 17 vehicles in a year exceeds the city shop’s capabilities.

Contracting the work out or hiring additional labor are not seen as viable answers because the work is very technological in nature with only a selected few qualified to handle it.

The vehicles proposed to be moved up are already funded. The revised schedule would have 10 vehicles in 2014 and 12 vehicles in 2015.

The City Council appeared receptive to the department’s proposals with no objections from any of the Councilmembers.

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