MONTE VISTA — Chief of the Monte Vista Police Department George Dingfelder recently announced that the department now has two new patrol cars.
“One of my main goals when I first started here two years ago, was to basically upgrade all the equipment for the officers; whether it was uniforms, vehicles, weapons, everything, I just really wanted to upgrade for them,” Dingfelder said. “Knowing a lot of people, I was able to get a lot donated, but the vehicles were a big issue for us.”
Dingfelder said the average age of the entire fleet of vehicles was 8 to 9 years old. The vehicles were outdated and all but three were police cars that had come from other agencies.
“The vehicles already had 80,000 or 90,000 miles on them when MVPD got them,” Dingfelder said. “Our maintenance was just ridiculous. There was always a car in the shop that was broke down. So, that was one of my first priorities when I started, I thought, we have to get some new vehicles here, because without vehicles, well we will get to a call, but it might be two hours later, walking.”
Dingfelder said maintenance on the vehicles was overwhelming because the vehicles were so outdated that it cost the department a lot of time and money.
"We were always nickel and diming it with the cars," Dingfelder said.
Dingfelder said the one cent tax fund was key to adding new vehicles.
“I remember when that was voted on, it was in 2019,” Dingfelder said. “So, 2020 was the first year that the one cent tax was used.”
With the one cent sales tax that was added in for Monte Vista, the money had to be broken down three ways: 25% to the police department, 35% to Public Works, and 40% to the Ski Hi Complex. The MV Police Department’s share was to be used in part for equipment.
“Last year we outright used it to buy one additional vehicle, a Dodge Durango, which is great, but at that rate, we were going, well after we got rid of our last vehicle it would be at least 15 years old,” Dingfelder said.
After City Manager Gigi Dennis was hired in late 2021, Dingfelder approached Dennis to see what they could do to upgrade the fleet quicker.
“I told her, we really have to do something about our cars, so we started looking into different options,” he said.
Dingfelder said that in exploring options they thought about using some general funds and one cent funds to possibly buy two cars a year, but he also knew this would not be feasible as it would still take anywhere from 3 to 4 years to completely replace all the cars.
“Then what really hit home for me was in December of last year, we actually only had three cars that were running,” Dingfelder said. “For literally 3 or 4 days we were down to three cars.”
Dingfelder explained with only three cars running they were having to double up on officers and there weren’t always officers that could patrol.
“It was just a mess,” Dingfelder said. “After Gigi came in, we decided to really do something.”
Dingfelder said he talked with law enforcement in the northern part of Colorado and asked them what they did about vehicles and one of the agencies said they leased their vehicles from Enterprise Rent-A-Car.
“I started looking into Enterprise and I contacted them. They gave us a presentation and a number of vehicles, they said five. I looked into it, and the numbers almost crunched just perfect. I figured it's going to cost us around $900 per month, per car, for the five cars. I had already had $60,000 set aside just to buy one more brand-new car, so I was like wow that’s just perfect, because that’s basically what it is $60,000 per year.”
MVPD according to Dingfelder will lease the cars for 4 years, and then at the end of that it will have the option to buy the cars outright, “depending on what we paid per month, for about $2,500 to $3,000 each. We will have those, and then we can start all over again.”
Dingfelder said that on average the department drives about 6,000 miles on one vehicle per year. He created a vehicle replacement plan with the Enterprise company, so that the average age of their fleet never gets to where it would be 8 or 9 years old again, and MVPD will have newer cars that run well, with a good replacement plan in place.
“We could not have done any of this without the one cent fund,” Dingfelder said. “I also just got a grant for some laptops, so we also have four brand new laptops for our cars, too. I am very grateful for all of this. Also, just thinking of our taxpayers, I decided we just needed to use the funds we currently had, without asking our taxpayers for anymore. That was very important to us, too.”