City Council puts the brakes on SUVs for police |

City Council puts the brakes on SUVs for police

Aspen has put the brakes on a plan to buy new SUVs for its police department.The City Council voted unanimously Monday to table action on a contract to purchase four Dodge Durangos for $90,080, directing the police department to take another look at more environmentally friendly vehicles.”I can’t vote for this. I don’t like the size of these vehicles,” said Councilman Terry Paulson, questioning why the city needs four-wheel-drive SUVs. “Aspen is relatively flat.”Councilman Tim Semrau questioned why the city isn’t at least buying the new gas-electric hybrid SUVs that Ford and Toyota are preparing to introduce if it’s going to buy the bigger vehicles.”I would like to look at the justification for moving to something as large as a Dodge Durango,” agreed Councilwoman Rachel Richards.The city has long enjoyed a discounted lease deal for its Saab squad cars and is now looking to convert its fleet to something else, as Saab is no longer interested in providing the cars at below-market rates. Lexus and Mercedes were asked if they’d like to step in with a Saab-like deal, but they apparently aren’t interested in providing Aspen with squad cars at a discount, said Richard Pryor, assistant police chief.The department looked at SUVs as it begins converting the fleet because it needs more room for equipment than hybrid cars can offer, and the police upgrades aren’t yet being offered in the hybrid SUVs that will be coming out, Pryor said.There are only a handful of manufacturers that offer police vehicles, added City Manager Steve Barwick, and they’re not offering the police package on brand-new hybrid models.The electrical system in hybrid vehicles isn’t yet built to handle the added electrical demands of a squad car, including its siren and lights, added Randy Ready, assistant city manager.The Dodge Durangos are an interim step before the city can move into something else for its police fleet as hybrid technology improves, Barwick said.Nonetheless, the council insisted on a little more research into options other than large, gas-powered SUVs.Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is

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