Council approves replacement police squads, tasers

Replacement squad cars and tasers for the Coon Rapids Police Department have been approved by the Coon Rapids City Council.

The council, by unanimous votes Feb. 18, awarded contracts for the purchase of nine police vehicles and 15 tasers for the department.

The police squads, eight marked cars and one unmarked vehicle, will be bought through the state contract from Nelson Auto Center in the amount of $228,785 plus some $45,000 to set then up for police use.

According to Police Chief Brad Wise, half the marked squads will be Dodge Chargers and half Ford utility vehicles, which have more storage for emergency equipment.

The 2014 budget had money for eight cars, but another marked squad was added because the department is short one squad after one was recently involved in an auto accident, causing significant damage. Although funds are expected to be recovered from the other party’s insurance company to cover repairs, staff has determined that the car will no longer function well as a police squad, Finance Director Sharon Legg told the council in a report.

But the damaged car, once repaired, will be used by the city’s code enforcement staff, negating the need to buy a new car for the department that was included in the 2014 budget in the amount of $21,375, according to Legg.

There is more than enough money in the 2014 capital equipment budget earmarked for police vehicles, $280,500, to cover the cost of nine police vehicles, Legg wrote.

The 15 tasers, plus holsters, batteries and cartridges, for the police department will be purchased from Taser International for $20,340.45.

They replace the existing 14 tasers which were purchased in 2004 and are “long in the tooth,” Wise said.

According to Stephanie Lincoln, city purchasing clerk, seven of the tasers will be bought with $9,345 reserved in the 2014 capital outlay budget with the remaining eight tasers, costing $10,995.45, being paid for from a contribution by the Anoka Hennepin Drug and Violent Crimes Task Force, of which Coon Rapids is a member.

The task force donation comes through forfeiture funds collected and maintained by the agency for the specific purpose of purchasing police equipment, Lincoln wrote in a report to the council.

Tasers are a positive thing in the view of Councilmember Steve Wells, a retired Coon Rapids police chief. “Tasers have received a bad rap, but police officers and citizens are far less likely to be injured,” Wells said.