Mt. Vernon considers buying new police vehicles - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Mt. Vernon considers buying new police vehicles

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MT. VERNON, Ill. -- Mt. Vernon city leaders plan to spend several thousand dollars on new vehicles and equipment for first responders.

The fleet of squad cars with the Mt. Vernon Police Department is getting older.  

"We've got a squad car sitting that needs an engine right now. We've got another squad car that sometimes goes into second gear and won't come out," mayor John Lewis said.

Lewis said the city plans to buy five new SUVs for the department and he's doing it now before a new state contract goes into effect later this year.

The state negotiates prices for squad cars on behalf of cities, and Lewis said from what he's heard, the city can buy the vehicles now for a cheaper price: about $30,000 each.

It's part of an estimated $6.1 million worth of new vehicles Lewis said the city needs.  

"We're getting the departments in shape, we've just got a long way to go," Lewis said.

The city also plans to spend a bit more than $19,000 on four thermal imaging cameras for the fire department.

Lewis said that will help first responders locate missing people.

"When they walk away from a nursing home or from a residence, we can spot them so much quicker without the resources it would take to start walking (in the) woods," Lewis said.

It will also help the department fight fires.  

"With those cameras, they can see exactly where the hot spots are and direct their water right on those spots," Lewis said.

City manager Mary Ellen Bechtel says about 20 percent of funding for the cameras comes from businesses that donated money.

"It's exciting to have companies supporting our department, the fire department, so we can keep people safer," Bechtel said.

Bechtel said the police vehicles will likely cost $150,000 altogether, plus another $20,000 to have them outfitted with the proper equipment.

The council will consider two bids on the thermal imagining cameras, and Bechtel said the cheaper bid would cost the city $19,121.80.

Both expenditures are pending a vote by the Mt. Vernon City Council Monday night.

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