SALEM - Residents will notice another new police car prowling the city streets, again courtesy of forfeited drug money, the method used to finance most of the city police fleet.
"We have to fight the drug dealers anyway. Why not use their money to buy the equipment we're fighting them with?" city Police Chief Bob Floor said Monday.
One officer on the city police force is assigned full-time to work with the Drug Enforcement Administration Youngstown Area Task Force. The city receives a percentage of the forfeited funds taken from drug dealers, based on the hours the officer has put into an investigation leading to conviction of the person whose cash was forfeited.
Floor estimated the city averages about 15 percent of the forfeited cash for each case, with the cut sometimes more or less depending on the involvement of the city's officer. The money can only be used by the police department for equipment or training. It cannot be used for wages.
Earlier this year, the department used forfeited funds to purchase a 2012 Dodge Charger which was put on the road in January.
On Friday afternoon, they unveiled a 2013 Ford Taurus Police Interceptor with all-wheel drive purchased fully equipped for $30,524 from Donnell Ford. The radio, radar and camera were switched out from a 2006 Ford Crown Victoria being retired.
Floor said Donnell offered a better price than state purchasing, so by law, he was permitted to go with the Donnell offer. The original bid was $29,148 and the state price was $29,989. The addition of a push bar in front and a shotgun rack upped the price to what they paid.
The car being retired had 149,000 miles on it. He said cruisers average about 30,000 miles per year, but it's all in town, in heavy stop and go situations, which is hard driving. The fleet includes seven marked cruisers (including the two supervisor SUVs), one unmarked detective car, one unmarked car for the chief and a recently purchased marked 2003 Envoy.
Floor said they used forfeited drug money to buy all of the vehicles. The Envoy with 4-wheel drive and 121,000 miles on the odometer was just purchased for $2,000 to be used for inclement weather or special duties, such as going to court or training. The two supervisor SUVs, a Jeep Grand Cherokee and a Ford Explorer, both have over 100,000 miles on them with 4-wheel drive. The three Ford Crown Victoria cruisers all have 80,000 to 90,000 miles on them.
The amount of money the department receives each year from the forfeited funds varies, depending on completion of cases. Last year, the department received $36,329 and this year so far, the department has received $3,990. Due to carryover from past years, the balance in the fund as of Monday was $108,957.
Mary Ann Greier can be reached at email@example.com