The Hazard Police Department is hoping to be an accredited police organization by the middle to this year, and seven new cruisers should help them on their way.
City officials approved the purchase of seven new Ford Crown Victorias for the department to replace several aging vehicles with high mileage, and Hazard Police Chief Ronnie Bryant says these new vehicles will help officers in Hazard to provide a better and safer service to the city's residents while cutting costs to the city in the process.
"With the addition of the new cars we hope to be able to do a better and safer job," he said. "The new cars will help the city save on the financial side. It gets real expensive with gas and repairs."
The newest vehicles in the department's fleet, Dodge Intrepids, are nearly four years old and their mileage is increasing, and Bryant noted that his department had been using even older cruisers, which can become a safety issue.
"We had been using cars that are about 10 years old, and it's not safe for any officer that has a job that has to go on emergency calls," he said.
Some of the cars, he noted, had been used previously by the Kentucky State Police, and while Bryant noted that the department definitely "got their money's worth out of those vehicles," they were aging.
"I thank the city officials for allowing us to buy these cars and upgrade our department," Bryant said. "We're working real hard to meet all qualifications to become accredited."
And becoming an accredited department will also save the city money as well.
According to Deputy Chief Joe Engle, if the Hazard Police Department becomes an accredited department, the city will automatically save 10 percent on liability insurance costs.
"It also proves to the public that we want to do everything we can to be a professional department and meet all the standards the state requires," Engle added.
Engle noted that HPD is "getting pretty close" to accreditation, but it could be a few months off still. "We just have to finish up the policy and procedure manual, we've been working on that for about three months, and we have about a month or two left on that," he said.
In addition, the department will also be required to meet 173 standards and pass a state inspection. Engle estimated that if everything goes as planned, the Hazard Police Department could be an accredited department by July of this year