Police to use drug money to buy new patrol cars

Drug dealers will be paying for half of the 16 cruisers the Biloxi Police Department plans to order today.

Mayor Andrew “FoFo” Gilich and Police Chief John Miller this afternoon will be asking the City Council for approval to spend nearly $440,000 to buy 14 Ford SUVs and two other vehicles to be used in the police department.

More than $200,000 of the funding will come from a federal program that refunds seized drug money to local police departments.

The proposed purchase of the police vehicles is one of more than two dozen issues on the City Council agenda. The meeting begins at 1:30 at City Hall.

The 16 new vehicles will replace aging vehicles in the department’s fleet, which number about 250 vehicles, including patrol cars, motorcycles, four wheelers, and other vehicles. The department cycles out a fraction of its fleet on an annual basis. 

“The first thing you look at is your need,” said Miller, who has served as chief for seven of his 26 years with the Biloxi Police Department. “Any vehicle with over 100,000 miles, and we have a couple with over 200,000 in the Criminal Investigations Division, has the likelihood of costly repairs coming soon. That’s part of it. Then you fill those needs with the available money.”

SUVs have been found to have a longer life span and are just as economical on fuel, police departments have found, and one of the new vehicles will arrive equipped with an ECO-boost engine that will make it more useful on the interstate.

 “It’s the same vehicle, but the engine is different,” Miller said. “The regular Ford SUV takes 7.99 seconds to go from 0 to 60. The ECO boost only 6.4 seconds to get from 0 to 60.

 “This is important because if an officer is sitting on side of the Interstate and a car passs him doing 90 mph, he’ll be out of Biloxi by the time the officer can pull him over. We needed something that could get them from 0 to 60 quicker, and this will do it.”

Miller also noted that the department must keep an ample supply of vehicles in its fleet, to use as replacements when frontline vehicles are undergoing maintenance or for special events, when all personnel and all cruisers are on the street.

The department is also continuing its one-officer, one-car program that began years ago.

Said the chief: “Years ago, police units were shared among officers, and some units would be on the street 24 hours a day. Police departments across the country have found that vehicles last much longer when they are assigned to a person and that person is responsible for the welfare of that vehicle. It works out a lot better for the department, which means it works out a lot better for the taxpayer.”
See the complete council agenda