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National police car shortage cutting into NOPD patrols

Even finding the right glue is causing problems.

NEW ORLEANS — With roughly 75 more New Orleans police officers put on patrol a month ago, you’d expect to see that many more police cars on the streets.

But that’s not the case.

According to New Orleans Police Chief Shaun Ferguson, supply chain issues are getting in the way of NOPD buying new police cruisers and repairing their old ones.

At this month’s consent decree meeting, one of the monitors reported that the vehicle shortage is forcing officers to ride two or three to a car in some cases, putting fewer “blue light patrols” out in the city than there could be.

“This is one of those nationwide issues with supply and demand and what is out there, what can we get our hands on,” Ferguson said.

City of New Orleans CAO Gilbert Montano says the City has 75 new police vehicles in-house already, but getting them outfitted has been a challenge. Getting radios, decals, cages, and all the equipment police rely on in their vehicles is harder than ever.

Now, even finding the right glue is causing problems.

“The frustration, the challenge is the waiting,” Montano said. “You get something two steps forward one step back, you know? Who would have thought that we're waiting now for glue?”

They’re not alone. The shortage of police cruisers is hitting departments across the country. Locally, the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office tells us they’ve been facing longer wait times for repairs and replacement vehicles, but those problems haven’t impacted their operations.

The Slidell Police Department even rolled out some of their old Ford Crown Victorias last year because of the microchip shortage.

New Orleans police are turning to their old cars too, finding parts in their own junkyard to keep some of the units running.

“That is when you know you're at your lowest threshold of fixing vehicles,” Montano said. “When your junkyarding and cannibalizing other cars just to be able to keep police cars on the road.”

And these are cars that need frequent maintenance. Police cars are basically on the road 24/7 and on New Orleans road, that can mean a lot of wear and tear.

Montano says money isn’t an issue right now when it comes to buying new police cars. The City currently has around $30 million set aside in next year’s budget to buy a new fleet of vehicles, but he says they’re ready to spend much more if they get the chance.

“I hope to surpass the $30 million if council appropriates in the availabilities there and have a bright, new, shining fleet across every single department,” Montano said. “Because I would say every single department needs it.”

New Orleans police expect to have those 75 new police cars on the road by the end of the year. To meet their overall goal though, they’re prepared to buy up to 600 new police cars.

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