Neosho residents should soon see three new police vehicles driving around town.

Neosho residents should soon see three new police vehicles driving around town.

The Neosho Police Department’s new 2013 Ford Interceptor Utility and two new 2013 Ford Interceptor Sedans are expected to be out on the streets within the next two weeks, said Police Chief David McCracken.

The Neosho City Council approved the $60,042 purchase from Joe Machens Ford, of Columbia, in November.

McCracken said $60,000 was budgeted for the replacement of vehicles, making the purchase only $42 over budget, however, the city is expecting insurance funds from a damaged department vehicle, and when those funds are received, they will more than cover the difference, he told council last November.

He said the recently purchased vehicles are a new style for the Neosho Police Department, who had previously driven primarily Ford Crown Victorias.

“They used to call it the Crown Victoria Interceptor,” McCracken said, noting that Ford has now quit making the Crown Victoria model. “They just call it the Police Interceptor.”

The switch to the new model of interceptors is common in area police departments, as the City of Seneca and the City of Joplin have both recently purchased them as well.

Neosho councilmen voted in November to approve the surplus of three of the police department’s older vehicles, two 2007 Crown Victorias and a 2006 Ford Expedition.

McCracken said one of the vehicles was totaled in an earlier traffic accident, while the vehicles also had high mileage.

He said the department tries to replace the aging vehicles routinely.

“We do that annually,” McCracken said. “We have a car replacement program and we’d been running behind because of the financial problems.”

He said the city trades out the vehicles with the most mileage.

While the department is pleased with the new vehicles, McCracken said there are some minor issues that are being worked through.

For one, the cars are a tight fit for the taller police officers. There is also some extra work in making the department’s equipment compatible with the new cars.

“We’re having to make a lot of modifications to our equipment to make it fit,” McCracken said.  

However, McCracken said keeping the department’s equipment and vehicles updated is crucial to getting the job done.

“We’ve got to keep our equipment up in good shape to respond the way we need to,” McCracken said. “Hopefully in a couple more years we can be back in the shape we were before the financial problems.”

The Neosho Police Department took a big hit in 2010, when the city’s financial crisis forced cuts to the Neosho Police Force, reducing the staff down to 11 people at one time.

While the department is not back to full staff, they are on their way, with 18 police officers, and two more positions open.

In 2008, prior to any department reductions, McCracken said 26 officers were on the force.