For the last eight years, I have been torn between which areas to invest the limited amount of dollars we do have, trying to determine where we can get the most bang for our buck. This year, one area came again to the forefront during a discussion with Tuscaloosa Police Department officials: the deteriorating state of our public safety fleet.
Over the last five years we have only been able to bandage together enough funding to replace 37 percent of the fleet, a fleet with now over 96 vehicles topping 100,000+ miles. Something had to be done.
In 2012, the City created a red light traffic camera program that would take pictures of cars used in committing violations, a police officer reviews the images and then sends the owners of the vehicles a red light running ticket. All tickets paid to date have been set aside, and when I was in discussions with the Police Department about their need for vehicles, it became apparent that now was the right time to use the money.
The City has collected over $1.5 million from the red light camera program over the years, and this will now be used to invest 46 vehicles into the Tuscaloosa Police Department, giving a much-needed boost to our working fleet and reducing auto maintenance costs. We plan to have these vehicles ready and working on the street during in 2018.
Investing in assets to keep Tuscaloosa streets safer – that’s money well spent.