Four vehicles have been added to the Haughton Police Department and two more will join the fleet next year, thanks to funding from the state’s grant assistance program.
The new vehicles will replace existing ones that have “aged out,” meaning they were being rotated out due to use. Although they may not have a lot of miles on them, Police Chief Rodney Farrington said city fleet vehicles often times have more hours on the engine.
“You start having mechanical problems then your repair bill exceeds your normal limit,” he explained. “That’s when it comes time to take it out of the fleet and get a new vehicle in.”
Repairs to the existing fleet vehicles exceeded the department’s budget, Farrington explained. Because funding was not in the budget to purchase new ones, an alternative source was needed.
“There is no set aside tax or millage tax for the police or fire department in the town of Haughton. They are strictly funded out of the sales tax,” Farrington said. “Most municipalities operate off a millage tax, but Haughton does not and we don’t want to do that if we can keep from doing it. There may be a time one of these years when we have to do that, but at this time we’re funded strictly from the sales tax and out of the general fund.”
Farrington contacted Louisiana Senator Robert Adley and State Representative Henry Burns for help with finding funds.
“Money is tight right now. It’s hard to come by. You’ve got to have someone on your side working for you and these guys are the best,” Farrington said.
Fortunately, funds became available through the Local Government Assistance Program (LGAP), a division with the state’s Office of Community Development department. Burns explained that LGAP is in place for assisting small town departments, like Haughton, in purchasing needed equipment.
“Purchasing a vehicle is very expensive and the budget isn’t always there,” Burns said. “This really does help these small towns get updated equipment for their personal safety as well as the public’s safety.”
The vehicles are fully loaded with the technology and equipment each officer needs to perform their job. Farrington said the vehicles have had a great impact on the department and town.
The most important thing he stressed was the department’s ability to continue serving the community in a timely manner.
“If you’re trying to get to a crime scene or an accident, every second counts. If your vehicle breaks down, you’re not only putting yourself in danger but the townspeople in harms way as well,” Farrington said. “When a vehicle malfunctions and has to be put it the shop, it takes anywhere from two days to two weeks for repairs. Meanwhile, our officers are swapping vehicles back and forth.”
The new fleet vehicles have also been a morale boost for the entire police department. Farrington thanked the work of Sen. Adley and State Rep. Burns for their support and for their help securing LGAP funds.
Most of all, he is glad that programs like LGAP exist.
“Anytime we, as a department head, can save money and keep tax payer’s money at a low cost, that’s what we do. This takes a strain off the city’s budget and resources, ” he said. “Any grants or assistance we can get for equipment, whether it be cars, equipment, uniforms, is greatly appreciated by not only myself, but the town hall and the citizens themselves.”