Police cars driving into the sunset



Colorado Springs' finest have concluded the cops have 68 too many squad cars, and they'll be gone by the end of this year.

Triggered by questions from pesky reporters, the Colorado Springs Police Department re-evaluated policies regulating usage of department vehicles. (If you want to see a sea of police cars, look in the parking lot behind the Stetson Hills Substation just east of CostCo on Powers Boulevard.)

The department also took a look at take-home cars and changed the policy to allow officers to take cars home up to 15 miles from center of city at Academy Boulevard and Maizeland Road.

In the course of their review, officials found the following:

· At the start of 2009, the department had 643 vehicles. By the end of 2010, there will be 575 vehicles. Currently, that number is around 600 while the process of disposition continues.

· Of those vehicles at the end of 2010, 352 will be “marked” cruisers, and 223 will be “unmarked” cars.

· There are 932 CSPD employees. Of those, 647 are sworn and 285 are civilian who use the vehicles.

· In 2004, the department's budget for fleet was $1.4 million. This year, it's $360,000.

· The overall CSPD budget is roughly $77 million from the general fund, and $12 million from the Public Safety Sales Tax.

· There are 85 vehicles, both marked and unmarked, authorized as “take home” vehicles for 2010. There were 82 vehicles authorized as “take home” vehicles in 2009.

"The work we did on the (take home) policy helps us with accountability," says Deputy Chief Pete Carey. "It's consistent throughout the Police Department and everybody's going to be doing it the same way, and that's a good thing."

He said the take-home changes, which require officers and volunteers such as after-hours chaplains to account for their miles and forbid them from using city vehicles for personal use.

Carey said the policy will result in savings of gas and maintenance on take-home cars and also because the fleet will be decreased.

"Overall we will have less money spent on vehicles because we'll have less vehicles," Carey says. "Simply put, our department is getting smaller."

The vehicles will be turned back to fleet, after the radios and special equipment is removed, for reallocation to other departments.

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