LIMESTONE, Maine — With proverbial belt tightening already being felt in the department’s budget, Limestone Police Chief Stacey Mahan had to use creative problem solving when a cruiser was destroyed in an accident last November.
To replace the vehicle with a brand new cruiser would have cost the town about $26,000.
Seeking a way to get the police department’s fleet back up to strength without putting the expense on the taxpayers, Mahan found through the Defense Logistics Agency’s Disposition Services a free 1997 Ford F150 with just about 80,000 miles on it.
Though the truck was obtained by the department for only the cost of gas to travel to Bangor and back to pick it up, repairs for the truck were looking to be steep.
Mahan was able to coordinate with Robert Collins, lead instructor of the Automotive Collision Repair Program at Northern Maine Community College in Presque Isle, to incorporate repairs on the truck into NMCC student’s studies. As a result, NMCC students were able to hone their automotive skills, and the truck was repaired for the cost of parts and paint.
The department spent a total of $500 on tires and a battery, but the rest of the materials needed to get the truck police-ready were covered completely by the $1,500 insurance check received by the department last fall when the old cruiser was wrecked, according to Mahan.
Once Mahan and officers Larlee and Guilemette attached a light bar to the vehicle and applied the decals (made by Blvd. Graphix), the truck was ready for duty.
The $500 investment is anticipated to yield a capable Limestone Police Department vehicle for the next few years, Mahan said.
The truck’s bed has already come in handy, making it easier for officers to transport cones, barriers and larger found items — like bicycles — that would otherwise be difficult to get in the trunk of a cruiser.
The police chief said adding the six-cylinder, two-wheel drive truck to the fleet has been overall beneficial for the department for reasons other than the truck’s bed. Not only does it get better gas mileage than the cruiser it replaced, it helps alleviate mileage being placed on the department’s newer vehicles, such as the 2002 Ford Explorer and the 2006 Crown Victoria.
“It’s a nice fit for our department,” Mahan said.
Because the community college students helped the department save thousands of dollars and stay well within its budget, Mahan said a $100 donation will be presented to the NMCC automotive class.