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Pittsburgh Council Approves $7.2M for New Vehicles, Police Cars

Pittsburgh City Council unanimously approved a $7.2 million bill to purchase new police vehicles and other additions to the city fleet, setting up the legislation for a final vote next week.

For the Bureau of Police, the list includes 31 new patrol cars, 12 new police motorcycles, nine unmarked cars and four K-9 vehicles.

The police department wants to buy sport utility vehicles for the 31 patrol cars rather than the current sedan model of police cruisers. Deputy police chief Paul Donaldson said the SUVs cost about $1,700 more per vehicle than the sedans — a difference of almost $52,000 for 31 new vehicles.

"But we believe that in the long run, the trade-in value or auction value is going to increase, so we can recoup some of that cost," Donaldson said, "and I think it will be more road-worthy, a more dependable form of transportation, particularly since we do have the four seasons here."

He said the SUVs have a lower top speed than the cruisers, but he noted that the average chase speed in Pittsburgh is 45 miles per hour.

Pittsburgh Finance Director Scott Kunka said it's not ideal to be paying $1.2 million of this year's vehicle tab from the city's general fund rather than the capital budget, but he said it is sustainable for the city to spend seven or eight million dollars per year on new vehicles.

This year's final price tag also includes projected maintenance costs and the purchase of vehicles for all other city departments, including public works, parks and the Bureau of Fire.

The legislation is up for a final vote on Tuesday.