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Mayor orders emergency proclamation for police cars

The Williamsport Bureau of Police has an immediate need to replace four police vehicles that have reached or surpassed end of life, Mayor Derek Slaughter said.

“Our police administration has performed many nationwide searches for suitable police vehicles that are eligible for purchase through joint purchasing contracting methods or competitive bidding,” he said.

“None are available due to global supply chain constraints.

“Wait times for vehicles ordered through normal processes are estimated to be six months or more,” Slaughter said.

Today, the city finance committee will be asked to recommend the request of $145,000 for four patrol vehicles and $41,000 for upfitting costs, according to the committee agenda.

“While we have been searching, our fleet of police vehicles has now reached a critically low level, as a result of recent mechanical failures,” Slaughter said. “The lack of operational police vehicles is now threatening public safety.”

Slaughter exercised the mayor’s powers under a section of Third-Class City Code to declare that a state of emergency exists within the city relative to a lack of operational police vehicles.

“I am therefore temporarily suspending the advertising and bidding requirements for the purchase and upfitting of up to four police SUVs by the bureau,” he said.

Accordingly, the bureau is authorized to purchase and upfit these vehicles by any legal means, on the best terms they can obtain, utilizing grant funds being allocated to them by the city Department of Community and Economic Development.

After the discussion today at the finance committee, the proposed purchases are expected to be presented to City Council for consideration during their regular meeting on Thursday.

Councilwoman Bonnie Katz, who sits on the finance committee and chairs public safety, said she would ask police administration and the mayor more about the emergency proclamation.

Katz said her immediate concern was how the city could use the community development funds for the purchase of the vehicles when these funds are usually for low to moderate income and needs.

The finance meeting begins at 1 p.m. and is held remotely on YouTube.

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