During last month’s Winston-Salem City Council meeting on Oct. 16, councilmembers approved the purchase of 21 Dodge Durango pursuit vehicles for a total of more than $850,000. Each car costs around $41,000. 

Seventeen will replace old police cars, while the other four are designated for the BEAR Team to help the expanding team of crisis counselors respond to mental-health calls and transport clients to facilities.

This year, the police department has a budget of $94.3 million. Last year the department was allotted a total of $87.2 million.

Most of the old vehicles are 2014-15 Dodge Chargers that range in price from $22,785-$27,698. However, some of them are much older models, the oldest being a 1999 Ford Taurus. The cars also racked up thousands of dollars in repairs.

The purchase didn’t go without the inquiry of some councilmembers.

Councilmember John Larson pulled it from the consent agenda for questions, with the environment and efficiency on his mind.

The city had previously bought Dodge Durango vehicles, Larson said, but “none of them were hybrids or [electric vehicles].” In February, the city bought three Dodge Durango pursuit vehicles for the BEAR Team for a total cost of nearly $127,000.

“I’m wondering, when are we going to start looking at hybrids and [electric vehicles]?” Larson asked?

These kinds of cars are in high demand; city Purchasing Director Darren Redfield said that many police pursuit vehicles aren’t available this year. 

Greensboro also pursued hybrid vehicles this year and faced similar challenges. Their order went unfilled due to production challenges, so they had to opt for gas-powered vehicles instead.

WSPD’s Assistant Chief Wilson Weaver chimed in, saying that this purchase was necessary because the police department is in “such a deficit of vehicles.”

“These vehicles became available, and we were trying to look at purchasing those vehicles to replace some of the vehicles that we’re losing due to wrecks,” he said. 

Among the totaled vehicles being replaced is a 2022 Ford Interceptor originally purchased for $33,063.

One of the coveted electric vehicles on the market is the Chevrolet Blazer EV PPV. It can run for 250 miles on a full charge and has a projected top speed of 130 miles per hour.

Councilmember Jeff MacIntosh noted that he stays “abreast of the car market,” and that the “Chevrolet electric pursuit vehicles — what everybody wants — they’re not shipping it. They won’t be shipping it till 2024.”

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