Monroe Police will purchase eight vehicles for its fleet a year ahead of schedule to save money and avoid the manufacturer’s first wave of hybrids.

The Monroe City Council approved the expedited purchase last month. Public Works Operations and Maintenance manager Jakeh Roberts said the City of Monroe would encounter a different issue if the new models were pursued — the order wouldn’t be filled until 2020.

“That creates quite a bit of a time lag,” he said. “So, essentially, if the police were to select a vehicle that works best for them, it wouldn’t be delivered for a year and a half.”

The police department has 33 vehicles in its fleet, according to executive assistant Pam Baker. The eight Police Interceptor Sedans being replaced are eight years old. The vehicles are switched out if they meet various criteria, Roberts said. That could be how many hours or for how many miles they have been driven. It could also depend on how many calendar years they have been operated, he said.

Roberts said police fleets are held under higher scrutiny. That is in part because of how much they are used and for the purposes they are used, or “used and abused. Roberts said the city is maintaining its typical standards during this process.

“Having one broken down on the side of the road is not generally considered to be acceptable,” Roberts said.

The replacements are being ordered from Ford Motor Company, according to council documents. The current model is being taken off the market after September.

Law enforcement publications like Police Magazine are warning audiences to stock up while they can. The new models would have cost the city between $5,000-7,000 more each, or $40,000-$56,000 total, according to council documents.

There could have been other costs. The current vehicles could have needed extra maintenance if they were used past 2019, when they were scheduled to be retired, according to council documents.

“These costs may be as minimal as the charge for a required annual safety inspection, or they may be more significant if a major system failure should occur,” according to council documents.

Roberts advised council that it is preferable not to purchase the first round of new models. There are often engineering flaws that get worked out in that initial wave, he said.

Councilmember Kirk Scarboro brought up concerns about the city buying a hybrid. He said he thought it could be expensive to replace batteries. In his experience, that could be more than the cost of getting rid of the car itself.

The city could consider purchasing replacements from other companies, Roberts said. Right now buying hybrids is not up for consideration, he said.

The eight Interceptors will cost the city $272,000, according to council documents. Each vehicle is priced at $34,000. Staff from the public works and police departments worked together to complete an annual assessment, from which it was determined the eight interceptors should be replaced.

The council voted unanimously to approve the early purchase. Mayor Geoffrey Thomas said the first draft of the 2019 budget will be presented around the beginning of October.

This year’s budget will have to be amended to reflect the purchase, according to council documents. The city’s fleet replacement fund has about $4 million, with about $603,000 set aside as restricted reserves by the end of the year.

“There is adequate cash available at this time for the purchase of these eight units,” according to council documents.

The replacement Interceptors should arrive by the end of this year or early 2019, according to council documents.