An advisory panel found Hawaii County would save $169,485 if Big Island police were to switch from unmarked subsidized personal vehicles to a fleet of county-owned marked patrol cars, the Associated Press reports. The county's Police Fleet Implementation Working Group's draft report says that buying 293 specially equipped patrol cars would cost $111 more per year. But the county would save $2,658 a year on each of the 76 non-patrol cars through fleet ownership. Police Chief Lawrence Mahuna disagrees. He complained in a letter that the panel ignored costs associated with fleet ownership, overstated how long the vehicles would last and overlooked the need for a reserve fleet. Mahuna claims that the panel did not factor in the cost of maintenance facilities and auxiliary employees such as mechanics and a fleet coordinator. Mahuna also said that switching to a county-owned patrol car fleet would remove an incentive to apply to the department and hurt recruitment efforts. The county owns just 37 of 376 vehicles used by the police department. The county currently pays each officer up to $587 per month to drive his or her own car. The county pays for liability insurance, one gallon of fuel for every 10 miles of driving on duty and a quart of motor oil for every 500 miles driven. The panel's report recommends the county switch to a fleet gradually over a five-year period, buying 50 vehicles at a time, the AP report says.
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