BRPD waiting on equipment, police units caught up in supply chain issues
BATON ROUGE - If you have seen a car lot recently, you may have noticed there are a lot fewer vehicles out there to buy. A chip shortage is plaguing the auto industry, which means there are fewer cars to sell. It's affecting many people and organizations, including the Baton Rouge Police Department.
Police rack up thousands of miles driving to and from scenes. Their units are supposed to be swapped out every few years, but for the last two years they've been having to make those units last a bit longer.
"The car itself is our office," Sgt. L'Jean McKneely said. "It takes us wherever we need to go throughout the city."
Some vehicles used by officers have 200,000-plus miles on them. While some units are newer, others are 2014 and 2012 and racking up large maintenance costs. But it's not so easy getting new cars right now.
With COVID and supply chain issues, it's been more difficult for BRPD to replace its fleet. BRPD says it has 280 units on order right now and as time goes on that number only grows while more units age out.
"We started the process in 2020 and now with the deficiency of cars available to everyone, we're having to deal with that just like everybody else," McKneely said.
For maintenance reasons, BRPD was hoping to switch over to one vehicle, but the wait for Chevy Tahoes alone would take even longer. BRPD has reached out to other vendors and their fleet will be made up of Dodge Durangos and Ford Explorers, too. Some units, outside of that 280 number, have arrived at BRPD recently. Those 30 or so units can't be used yet because they haven't been outfitted - more supply chain issues.
"They have to be outfitted with equipment, and the equipment itself is on backlog so we're waiting on cars, we're waiting on equipment and we're doing the best we can with what we have," he said.
That means doubling up for some of the 580 officers until the new units they have can hit the street and other units are delivered.
"New officers are driving their personal vehicles to districts and then they're doubling up with other officers."
Then they head out to service calls. BRPD prefers officers to be in their own units so they can respond to different calls and for visibility purposes.
There's no real time frame for when the 280 units will arrive. All BRPD knows is that they're coming and they're in constant contact with dealers.
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