Two new cars for Alpena PD

ALPENA – The Alpena Police Department has been doing the best it can maintaining its current fleet of patrol car because the city’s budget crunch over the last few years has made it difficult to purchase new cars. Thanks to a pair of grants for $26,000, the city was able to purchase two new vehicles that were introduced at a special ceremony at the Public Safety Building.

City Manager Greg Sundin said the city had money budgeted for one new vehicle, but the grant, which covered 40 percent of the overall cost, allowed the city to buy two at just a little over what was budgeted for. He said Police Chief Joel Jett did a good job of seeking out funding and bringing it to the city.

“For the last few years we have either had to skip buying a car, or buy one. We were on a schedule when we would buy one one year and two the next year, but we fell out of that rotation and it has had an impact on the department,” Sundin said. “We are going to apply again this year and if we get we hope to get two more cars, if not probably only one.”

Jett said not having new vehicles has put a strain on the department, as the cost of repairs on the old cars piled up. He said having dependable vehicles is a must if the police are expected to do its job.

“We had an aging fleet and we haven’t replaced patrol cars in several years and it was to the point to where we were having maintenance issues and the expenses associated with them were going up, as well as the reliability issues,” Jett said. “We have to ensure an officer has dependable and safe transportation to and from every call they go on and we were to the point where I was having concern about that. Council was extremely supportive in this effort and everything worked out great.”

The ceremony featured representatives for Sens. Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow, as well as Congressman Dan Benishek and state Sen. John Moolenaar. Valarie Handy and Shelly Fuller from the Department of Agriculture also were on hand. Handy said the USDA provides grants to communities for many different reason. She said this grant came via the Community Facilities Program.

“This program is set up specifically for municipalities and nonprofit organizations and the funds typically go toward first responders,” Handy said. “It goes toward new equipment, vehicles and that type of stuff. It helps subsidize some of the cost so the municipalities don’t have to bare all of the financial burden for these things.”

Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at sschulwitz@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews. Read his blog, Upon Further Review … at www.thealpenanews.com.