OC Police Vehicle Purchases Slowed

OCEAN CITY — Resort officials this week tabled a request to purchase two new vehicles for the Ocean City Police Department amid questions about their intended purpose.

The Mayor and Council had before them on Tuesday a request to purchase two police vehicles that were included in last year’s Vehicle Trust budget but were ultimately cut because of a lack of available funding. Ocean City Procurement Manager Catrice Parsons told the Mayor and Council on Monday she and Budget Manager Jennie Knapp had been able to find funding for the two new police vehicles through the State Aid for Police Protection grant.

“When we get requests to replace vehicles, they aren’t always approved,” said Parsons. “In this case, these two requests were in the fiscal year 2019 budget, but were cut out due to a lack of funding and were moved to the fiscal year 2020 budget. Now, we’ve been able to find a way to pay for them through grants.”

The two vehicle requests include a Chevy Impala at $22,000 and a Chevy Equinox at $23,000. Also included in the request presented on Tuesday was $6,000 each for uplifting the stock vehicles with the appropriate police equipment. It was the latter that proved to be a sticking point.

Councilman Dennis Dare questioned how the proposed $6,000 in uplifting costs for each vehicle would be used. Parsons explained the proposed new vehicles would not be put in the patrol fleet, but could not explain the exact intended purpose.

“They would be used as unmarked vehicles,” she said. “They would still need some interior features that have to be uplifted to make them suitable for police use.”

Dare continued to press the issue of the intended use of the vehicles and the $12,000 combined for the uplifting of certain equipment.

“It’s not a patrol vehicle,” he said. “Why do they need $6,000 in upgrades if they aren’t being put into service for patrol?”

Parsons and Knapp explained a police representative could be brought in to explain the intended use for the two requested vehicles. The motion to approve the request was withdrawn and the request for the two new vehicles was tabled for now.

Dare took the opportunity to express his desire for an expansion of the take-home vehicle policy for the OCPD.

“I’m a big supporter of marked take-home vehicles for officers who live in Ocean City and we’ve struggled with filling out that fleet,” he said. “I’m more interested in learning what we’re doing with that program and encouraging more officers who live in town to take home vehicles. It’s good for the convenience of the officers and its also good for the protection of our communities to have marked police vehicles in the neighborhoods.”

About The Author: Shawn Soper

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Shawn Soper has been with The Dispatch since 2000. He began as a staff writer covering various local government beats and general stories. His current positions include managing editor and sports editor. Growing up in Baltimore before moving to Ocean City full time three decades ago, Soper graduated from Loch Raven High School in 1981 and from Towson University in 1985 with degrees in mass communications with a journalism concentration and history.