Hammond missed out on a police purchasing item after delaying it by too many meetings.
The Hammond Police Department was set to ask for Hammond City Council’s approval on Tuesday to purchase 10 fully equipped Tahoes it needed, despite being postponed from discussing the topic twice. The purchase request was ultimately removed from the agenda because the vehicles were no longer for sale.
As of 3:30 that day, Dana Safety Supply said the units had been sold and are no longer available, said Police Chief Edwin Bergeron Jr. during the meeting.
The department will rebid for 2021 Tahoes on state contract, but it will be longer until they get them and it will likely be more expensive, he explained.
The vehicles the department tried to purchased would have been equipped with the dash cameras that connect to officers’ Axon made body cameras and Tasers. Like the body cameras, the dash cameras would automatically record when a Taser is turned on, as well as the two minutes leading up to that point.
“Us not having vehicles affects the officers, as well as community and response times and everything else,” Bergeron said.
Attorney George Tucker said that while police officers need vehicles, these vehicles are not the police officers’ to do as they wish.
“We do need them to have adequate transportation but to protect and serve not to arrest and harass,” Tucker said.
The council tabled the item during the Sept. 8 meeting and was unable to discuss it at the Aug. 25 meeting due to a lack of quorum.
The council had been warned at the meeting two weeks prior that the purchasing agreement with Dana Safety Supply had already been extended and the possibility of another extension was unknown.
The cause of the tabling last week was documentation about police and fire vehicles being totaled in wrecks. The city is working to fill Councilman Devon Wells’ request for two years’ worth of accident reports where police officers were involved in a crash.
Bergeron said that officers are required to take a three-day defensive tactics class after being involved in wrecks, but COVID-19 pushed back their quarterly classes until recently. Instructors are brought in to teach the class to a group of officers. Currently, about seven or eight officers are taking the class.
“After this week, almost everyone who was in a wreck should have attended a class,” he said.
Wells said he wanted to look at the data himself to see “what is the truth and what is a lie” about the accidents officers are involved in.