Walla Walla Police Department vehicle

Walla Walla Police Department vehicle

Walla Walla police’s front-line patrol unit will soon be getting seven new vehicles, after the City Council voted unanimously Wednesday, Dec. 2, to approve spending up to $500,000 for the vehicles and all associated equipment.

The city’s police department has a front-line patrol fleet of seven vehicles that are expected to be usable at any time to respond to emergencies, Fleet Services Supervisor Matt Edwards said at Wednesday’s council meeting.

Vehicles are used for those services for four years before being used as a standby vehicle for an additional four years, Edwards said.

While in front-line service, the vehicles are rotated between 28 patrol officers and once rotated to standby service are used to temporarily fill in for vehicles out for maintenance or other reasons, Edwards added.

Between the vehicle’s time on the front line and later as a standby vehicle, each car is driven roughly 148,000 hard-duty miles over its eight years of service, according to a report Edwards provided to the City Council.

The cars need to be regularly replaced, Edwards said, because they become progressively more likely to break down during emergencies with every additional year on the road.

In their first year, there’s on average around 1½ “high-risk failures” — when a breakdown prevents an officer to responding to an active call — per year across the whole fleet, he said. That failure rate increases to 14 failures per year by the time the front-line vehicles are all in their fourth year.

Emry Dinman can be reached at emrydinman@wwub.com or 425-941-5829.

Reporter covering agriculture, Walla Walla city and county government, and other topics.

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