Police fleet gets needed infusion

Photos by Ron Leir TOP: Dep. Police Chief George King displays some of the emergency supplies kept in trunks of new police SUVs. BOTTOM: A view of the SUV’s interior shows MDT on passenger side.
Photos by Ron Leir
TOP: Dep. Police Chief George King displays some of the emergency supplies
kept in trunks of new police SUVs. BOTTOM: A view of the SUV’s interior shows
MDT on passenger side.


Action is proceeding on two fronts to beef up Kearny’s rolling stock – one aimed at keeping the streets safer and the other, keeping them cleaner.

On the first front, a batch of new Kearny Police Department vehicles have arrived and they could not have come at a better time.

Part of the motor pool fleet is so banged up due to a combination of age and wear and tear that the town had to spend $81,000 in 2014 just to fix police cars, according to CFO Shuaib Firozvi.

“This year,” Firozvi said, “we’re already at $85,000 for repairs to police vehicles,” mostly Ford Crown Victorias – which have been the standard for a host of police departments in the region.

But with that model having become impractical and much too cramped for police use, especially for larger officers, given the electronic gadgets that the black-and-whites must accommodate.

Earlier this year, the mayor and Town Council – acting on the recommendation of Police Chief John Dowie – authorized the acquisition of 12 new vehicles – 2016 Ford Police Interceptor SUVs ordered through Winter Ford in Cherry Hill and outfitted with specialty police equipment by Major Police Supply in Kenvil.

Each vehicle was priced at $24,000 but adding in accessories, including the rear seat “cage” and side window bars to restrain arrestees, mobile data terminals, plus emergency supplies like traffic cones, flares, fire extinguishers and personal protection items, that amount rises to about $42,000 apiece, according to Deputy Police Chief George King.

“The fleet was old and in rough shape,” King said. “And we lost a few of our cars to bad accidents where the cost to repair them outweighed their future usefulness.”

Another reason the old Crown Vics needed to go, King said, was that they were “bad in the snow – hills were tough – and your speed was affected, even with the chains our mechanic put on them.”

“The SUVs won’t have to come off the road [in snowstorms] – they don’t need chains,” said police mechanic Jim Ahearn.

Of the old vehicles being replaced, the average car had accumulated around 130,000 miles, King said.

Several of the older cars get passed on to the Public Works Department or traffic violations, he said, while seven vehicles whose condition and value have deteriorated so badly will be sold as surplus at a private sale.

A number of the 12 new SUVs are on the road now and the rest are in the process of being detailed with the exterior police insignia and stocked with the MDTs and other essential equipment, King said.

On the second front, the Kearny Municipal Utilities Authority is awaiting delivery, by the week of Nov. 8, of a new street sweeper with vacuum attachment it plans to use to clean South Kearny’s heavily-traveled byways, traversed mostly by heavy-duty trucks going to and from the many industries in the area.

The MUA will be taking over the job that has been done previously by the Kearny Urban Enterprise Zone in conjunction with the Public Works Department on a monthly basis at a cost of $12,000 a year.

But now, under a shared-services agreement, the KUEZ will be re-directing $28,500 in funding to the KMUA spread over five years for an extended liability warranty on the sweeper and for annual maintenance costs such as oil changes, replacement of brooms, etc., according to KMUA Executive Director Kevin O’Sullivan.

O’Sullivan said the KMUA is investing $217,200 in a purchase of the new vehicle, a RAVO 5 Series sweeper, from Northeast Sweepers of Belleville. That vendor was the only firm to bid and the KMUA board awarded the contract on May 24.

Instead of sweeping Central, Hackensack, Jacobus and Pennsylvania Aves. and Second and Third Sts., only once a month, as done under the old system, O’Sullivan said the KMUA “is looking to do it once or twice a week, and because we will be collecting the materials in our vacuum – instead of pushing them to the center or side of the road – we’ll be sweeping more efficiently and keeping our catch basins cleaner.”

Swept-up materials will be disposed of at the Keegan Landfill, at least for now, he said.

O’Sullivan said he felt that, “the employees we have should be enough” to handle the new sweeping assignments.

“There may be a learning curve to figure out what our sweeping schedule will be,” he said. “We should be able to all of South Kearny within a fourto- six-hour window spread over a half a day or twice a day.”

Meanwhile, the KMUA is in the midst of installing the new Kearny Point and Harrison Ave. pumping stations and O’Sullivan is confident those pumps will be completed by the end of 2016.

Learn more about the writer ...