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Option explored to get new LPD vehicles

A proposal for a lease-purchase program that would replace aging vehicles at Lawton Police Department passed the City Council Tuesday, meaning city administrators have the green light to investigate the idea.

If implemented, the lease-purchase proposal from the City Manager's Office would allow the city to buy 29 police patrol vehicles, a detective vehicle and four police utility vehicles, using the city's rolling stock fund and the 2015 Sales Tax Extension Program to cover the cost.

City officials say Lawton Police Department has 29 patrol vehicles and a detective vehicle that are more than 10 years old. While the city plans to use its operating budget and public safety funding to replace four police sedans, a detective vehicle and four "public safety" vehicles (meaning, they will be funded through the 2015 Sales Tax Extension), those plans for this fiscal year barely make a dent in the number of aging vehicles in the police fleet. The estimated cost for replacement of those nine vehicles is $373,151.

But, city administrators also have learned a local business and a national company are interested in submitting a lease-purchase proposal that would allow the city to replace all 29 police patrol vehicles plus the others planned in this fiscal year, then pay them off over a period of time. Called "lease purchase," the option is one the city has used for other expensive vehicle replacement, such as the fire apparatus used by Lawton Police Department.

City officials have been told a four-year lease-purchase program could cost $350,000 a year. In addition to replacing more of the aging vehicles that is possible otherwise, the idea also would cut maintenance costs, city administrators said.

Council approval on Tuesday doesn't necessarily mean the city will enter the program. The council's action directed city administrators to release Requests For Proposals, asking firms that are interested in lease-purchase to submit proposals. The decision to participate by selecting a firm would have to return to the council floor for action.

In other business, council members listened as several residents urged the city to investigate options to build sidewalks in the community, particularly along arterials.

While the issue has been mentioned by residents at other council meetings in recent months, many of Tuesday's comments referenced the recent death of Michael Walsh Jr., a 19-year-old man who, relatives said, died from wounds sustained after he was struck by a vehicle while walking on Southwest 38th Street, near Dr. Elsie Hamm Drive.

One of Walsh's sisters pleaded with the council to prioritize sidewalks, particularly along arterials, adding that she has never lived in a community without sidewalks. Evie Upton said her brother was struck while walking along an arterial with a speed of 40 miles per hour and one that is next to a university.

The Lawton Constitution

102 SW 3rd, Lawton, OK
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