By Ray King

The Public Safety Committee of the Pine Bluff City Council on Friday recommended a proposed ordinance that will allow the city to waive competitive bidding and buy new police cars from a Pine Bluff dealer be approved.

At a special called meeting, Mayor Shirley Washington said the cars had been ordered in January but an ordinance to waive the competitive bidding had not been done at that time.

Smart Chevrolet is not on the current vendor list for state vehicle contracts but said in a letter to the city they are willing to match all pricing – both base and options within the guidelines of the state contract “City taxpayer funds are spent locally while receiving the same products.”

The city is buying a total of 13 new vehicles with most of them going to the Patrol Division, Assistant Police Chief Kelvin Hadley said, adding that the cars are in and ready to be picked up.

Washington said the total costs of the cars will be $420,123 and the city has found the money to pay for them.

Asked by Council member Joni Alexander if the additional cars will get the department to the point that officers who live in the city will be able to take them home, Hadley said they were getting close.

Council member Glen Brown Jr., who is chairman of the committee said he would like to see that happen as soon as possible and if there are not enough cars right now, those officers with the most time on the job should get the cars first, and then as more cars are acquired, other officers would get them.

Take home cars are one of the benefits police department officials believe will encourage more people to apply with the department or to stay with the city rather than go elsewhere.

The proposed ordinance will be on the agenda for the council when they meet Monday at 5:30 p.m. at the Pine Bluff Convention Center.