The Jackson Police Department will be distributing 53 new marked patrol vehicles to precincts beginning next week, Assistant Chief Lee Vance announced at a command staff meeting this morning, the largest single purchase of new vehicles he can remember. Vance instructed precinct commanders to begin developing ways to encourage responsible use and protection of the cars.
"Everybody knows--if you haven't been living under a rock--that we're living in tough economic times," Vance said. "We don't know exactly how many vehicles we're going to be able to buy next year."
Money for roughly 40 of the vehicles was available in the department's budget, while funds for the remaining new vehicles came through several federal grants, including portions of a $1.6 million award from the 2008 economic stimulus package.
"I'm of the opinion that we have too many cars that are being wrecked," Vance said. "The reason they're being wrecked is because we don't have a level of awareness about that issue."
Vance added that the department would be scrutinizing officers' driving records, issuing awards for safe driving and only giving new vehicles to officers' with a history of responsible use.
"Let it be known: If you go out there and you don't take care of these vehicles, and you tear that vehicle up being silly with it, there's going to be hell to pay," Vance said. "I don't care if you've got 90 years of seniority on this police department; if you've got 90 wrecks, you're probably not going to get a new car."
Command staff also discussed crime statistics from last week at today's meeting. Officers reported 190 property crimes last week, up from 144 the week before, and 36 violent crimes, up slightly from 33 the previous week. The increase in property crimes was largely due to a spike in auto burglaries, which more than doubled, from 28 to 60. Compared to last year's numbers, however, auto burglaries are down 9 percent for the year to date and 11 percent for the past four weeks. Overall property crimes are down 2.7 percent for the year to date, while violent crimes are up from 250 by this time in 2009 to 307 for the year to date.
Major Crimes Statistics for March 8-14
List of Major Crimes