Although it plans to receive 22 new police vehicles over the next four months, the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service says the replacement cars will not match the rate at which its fleet is aging.
Superintendent Adrian Seales confirmed Wednesday that of the 113 vehicles used by the RCIPS, somewhere between 30 and 40 – about one-third – have now “reached the end of their operational life.”
“Current guidelines suggest that vehicles be replaced every three years or every 100,000 miles, whichever comes first,” Mr. Seales said. “Due to budget constraints, the replacement rate can’t always be adhered to.”
The police service expects to receive 13 new vehicles this month which will be outfitted and ready for duty by the end of February. Another nine vehicles will be received by June, police said.
Last year, the RCIPS received eight new vehicles.
About two years ago, some 20 RCIPS patrol cars were decommissioned due to their age.
A few had been on the streets since 1998. At the time, the police fleet consisted of 126 vehicles of which more than half had reached their service life.
Also, the department noted, it must service a number of different vehicles, from the old Chevrolet Impalas to newer Dodge Chargers and the latest patrol vehicles, Ford Interceptors, in addition to other SUVs and tactical vehicles used by the RCIPS.
The issues of servicing a number of different make and model vehicles causes headaches for government auto repair technicians and is not unique to the police service, Mr. Seales said.
“The government is working hard to consolidate the entire government [vehicle] fleet to three or four brands, for the sake of efficiency,” he said.
The RCIPS has been one of the hardest-hit departments by what government auditors have described as a fleet of run-down vehicles, according to a 2014 report that identified “a growing fleet of dilapidated vehicles, most of which are attributed to the Department of Environmental Health, the Health Services Authority and the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service.
“These entities’ vehicles consume over 50 percent of the Department of Vehicle and Equipment Services’ time and budget,” the Internal Audit report stated.
This situation raised another issue concerning government vehicles – one the police service has often dealt with – that is, whether purchasing a new vehicle would be more cost-effective than repeatedly repairing old models.
“The monies spent may have been better used to offset at least 50 percent of the costs of brand-new vehicles of similar characteristics,” the Internal Audit report stated.