To Buy or To Lease: The Question for Police Fleets - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

To Buy or To Lease: The Question for Police Fleets

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KENNEWICK, Wash. - It's a decision many of us face at some point in our lives: should you buy or lease? There are positives and negatives for both but the stakes are much higher when you're talking about the fleets of our local police departments and the millions of taxpayer dollars that are involved.

Police vehicles must be well maintained and whether it's leasing or buying the cars and SUV's plus all of their equipment easily cost between 30 and $40,000. Every few years, they're replaced or phased out.

"It's an officers office. 12 hours a day, they're in that car," said Captain Mike Cobb with the Richland Police Department. Their blue and white fleet is made up of eight Tahoes and 15 Chevy Caprice's. The city is just changing from a leasing system. By the end of the year they will own all of the patrol cars.

"We're constantly reassessing, reevaluating and achieving some type of balance between cost effectiveness and being a good steward of taxpayer dollars and making sure officers have a safe and healthy environment to work in," said Cobb.

Kennewick's patrol fleet is outright replaced every three years. The brand new black and white fleet of 22 vehicles cost upward of one million dollars.

"A lot of things went into the consideration of what will be the best vehicle for our officers and makes the most economic sense for our citizens," said Sgt. Ken Lattin.

They waited until the latest model of police Fords were released to upgraded a year after their typical cycle because these new models are more efficient and safer.

"They're multi tasking, receiving info on the radio, they're working the lights and the sirens trying to get somewhere safely and at the same time, get there quickly, so we need a vehicle that will match up with that danger and keep the officers safe," Lattin said.

The Pasco police fleet is the only one to fully lease their entire fleet.