Police Cruiser Debate Revs Up

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By Joe Foreman, Editor

     The Glenwood City Council has passed a resolution authorizing the city to utilize up to $175,000 in general obligation bonds for the purchase of up to four new police cruisers.
    The resolution passed by a 4-1 margin at the council’s regular meeting Tuesday, Feb. 22. Councilman Craig Florian cast the lone dissenting vote. The council action authorizes maximum funding for new vehicles, but a decision on how many new cruisers and SUVs will be purchased, if any, is still up for debate. Glenwood Police Chief Eric Johansen has asked for the purchase of four new vehicles, which would give the department nine vehicles in its fleet - one for each officer on the force.
    Not everyone in attendance at last week’s meeting is in favor of Johansen’s proposal, including former Glenwood Police Chief Kenneth Mead.
    “I think it’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever seen,” Mead said. “There’s a lot more things you need than four new police cars.”
    Louis Jenson told the council to use “common sense” on the matter.
    “We need it (money) for more important things,” Jenson said.”We’re short of money the way it is. Use it for something we need.”
    Mead and Jenson said they would prefer to see the city spend money on sidewalk improvement projects and a swimming pool. They also questioned the increase in maintenance and insurance costs for adding four vehicles to the police department’s fleet.
    Two Glenwood police officers, Sgt. Pat Martin and officer Trent Good, voiced support for the vehicle purchase.
    Good said if each officer were to have their own cruiser, mileage will build up at a  slower pace and the  vehicles would last longer. The vehicles would also receive better care from the officers, Good believes.
    “Officers will take more pride in their own car,” Good said.
    Martin said Johansen’s proposal would expand the life expectancy of each new vehicle in the department’s fleet to nine or 10 years. He added he believes it is important for the police department to stay on the “cutting edge” when equipping its officers.