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SFPD seeks more than $500,000 for patrol cars

Like it or not, Santa Fe is in a police recruitment battle with Albuquerque, which has boosted officer pay rates, and offers bonuses. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

Santa Fe Police Department is looking to purchase eight new vehicles for more than $500,000 when equipped. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

SANTA FE – The Santa Fe Police Department is seeking more than $500,000 to be spent on eight new police vehicles, with nearly half the cost consisting of upgrades to the cars.

If the request is approved at the Oct. 14 City Council meeting, the department will gain seven SUV-style patrol cars and one Ford F-250 pickup truck to be used by its Animal Services Division. The total cost for the vehicles, including outfitting them with police equipment, is $539,662.

The vehicles alone are estimated to cost around $290,000 before any upgrades or additions for police equipment are made, according to city records. SFPD also anticipates spending an additional $248,772 on the vehicles, the bulk of which will go toward installing emergency lights and radio equipment.

Councilors discussed the proposed purchase during Tuesday’s Public Works meeting, with some criticizing the department’s decision to make the vehicles all-black.

“I wish that we would go away from the black vehicles,” Councilor Signe Lindell said. “I think in this day and age of policing there’s a lot of national conversation, and I think those vehicles look very aggressive. I think going back to a black-and-white vehicle would be a very good idea.”

Councilor Chris Rivera, the committee chairman, agreed that solid black was not his preferred color.

SFPD Deputy Chief Ben Valdez said that all-black vehicles were less expensive and that the department wanted the color of its vehicle fleet to remain consistent. Lindell countered that SFPD kept many black-and-white vehicles for years after adopting new colors.

Many SFPD vehicles are used for more than just police work. Data from 2019 show that only 25% of SFPD’s force lives within the city’s limits and that many use patrol cars to commute to Santa Fe.

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