Little Rock police request $67,748 for 9 more unmarked vehicles

Board of Directors to vote Tuesday on amendment to 37-vehicle pact

Posted: June 19, 2017 at 4:30 a.m.

The Little Rock Board of Directors is scheduled to vote Tuesday on whether to approve funding for nine additional leased vehicles for the city's Police Department.

Little Rock police are asking the board to approve $67,748 for nine unmarked leased vehicles that would be distributed to various units and divisions, according to the board resolution.

The resolution, if approved, would amend a previous lease agreement with Enterprise Fleet Management that costs $183,094 annually. Department officials said that agreement provides funding for 37 unmarked vehicles.

The contract with Enterprise was approved by the board in April after a bidding process, officials said.

With the nine additional vehicles, the cost of the contract would come to $250,772 with a total of 46 leased vehicles, department officials said.

"The reason we're going back and asking for the additional nine is we have some flexibility in the budget," said Little Rock Assistant Chief Wayne Bewley, adding that previous annual leasing agreements cost around $300,000 for 37 vehicles.

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Capt. Ty Tyrrell, who oversees the department's special investigations division, described the resolution as a "win-win" situation for taxpayers and the department. The city saves about $50,000 a year and the department gets the benefit of added vehicles, he said.

The city would pay about $4,948 per vehicle under the current contract with Enterprise, and would pay about $5,451 per vehicle if the new resolution is approved. Although the city does not pay the same amount on every vehicle, Tyrrell said the resolution would increase the per-vehicle cost, in part, because the nine vehicles are more expensive.

If the board funds the cars, two vehicles will go to the major crimes division; three will go to the Violent Crimes Apprehension Team; two will go to the special investigations division; and two will go to the department's emergency management unit.

In the contract approved by board members in April, two vehicles will go to the major crimes division. One vehicle was assigned to each of three patrol divisions, and the rest were given to the special investigations division.

"The need has been there, especially with some of the additional things that the department has taken on," Bewley said.

The department recently created a part-time cold case unit, another move that has increased the need for leased vehicles, he said. The Violent Crimes Apprehension Team, which aims to reduce violent crime, has had to borrow cars from other divisions, he said.

"As you borrow, it creates a potential hardship on that area. We all have to work together from the same pool of vehicles," Bewley said.

He said the additional vehicles will give divisions some flexibility.

The leased vehicles are a hodgepodge of rental cars, from pickups to compact cars, that allow officers to go into neighborhoods without being immediately recognized as police, officials said. Tyrrell said police can use those cars for various types of surveillance, such as looking for a homicide suspect or searching for a person with multiple warrants out for his arrest.

Bewley said the cars provide police with a certain level of anonymity -- something that comes in handy, whether it's for staking out a business with a rash of robberies or rolling by a house where a dangerous suspect has been known to visit.

The department has dozens of unmarked vehicles assigned to officers, but Bewley said those vehicles are driven to crime scenes constantly and sit on public department lots. Those vehicles, he said, are easily recognizable as police vehicles even though they are unmarked.

Metro on 06/19/2017