Former APD supervisor questions police car refurbishment - KMSP-TV

Former APD supervisor questions police car refurbishment

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ATLANTA -

An expert in emergency driving techniques says a cost-cutting measure by the city of Atlanta will endanger the lives of police officers.

The Atlanta Police Department is trying something new with its fleet of vehicles by taking old patrol cars and overhauling them.

In one example, the city has spent more than $11,000 on a 7-year-old vehicle. However, since the vehicle has been reconditioned, it's been back in the garage twice.

Bud Watson, a former APD supervisor, is speaking out about the refurbishing of vehicles, some of which have more than 150,000 miles.

"It puts officer's lives in danger. It puts the general public in danger," said Watson.

His concern is that an officer may not be able to count on a refurbished vehicle, especially at 90 miles per hour.

At City Hall, APD Chief George Turner's top assistant, Deputy Chief Shawn Jones, has tried to reassure council members that the first eight cars with the changed-out parts are reliable. The cost -- $11,200 -- is significantly cheaper than buying new, Jones said.

"They're going to go in and they're going to replace those component parts to rebuild that car essentially and make that car almost like a new car," said Jones.

Watson is an expert. He taught emergency driving for APD.

"I mean, most police cars have stiffer suspensions and officers, you know, responding to emergency calls rely on that suspension because the vehicle has certain dynamics that if all of the parts are not working in conjunction with one another, you are looking for a tragedy to happen," said Watson.

Jones said that once they figure out how the refurbished vehicles are working, they will reassess the pilot program.

Watson said it's not worth the jeopardy and uncertainty.

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