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SHPD highlights police vehicles with new look and updated technology features

PMG PHOTO: NICOLE THILL-PACHECO - St. Helens Police Department Officer Jon Eggers and K9 Officer Ryder pose for a photo in front of one of the citys new police vehicles. The K9 vehicle is equipped with standard safety features, including amenities specifically for the K9 officer. The St. Helens Police Department will be rolling out a new fleet of police vehicles thanks to a leasing program the St. Helens City Council approved in November.

The council approved a contract with Enterprise Fleet Management late last year allowing the city to lease vehicles rather than purchase them outright and pay for ongoing maintenance when factory warranties expire. Leasing also allows the city to replace

vehicles on a more frequent basis.

By working with a leasing program, the department can replace its current vehicles with newer models, outfitted with updated technology for less expense than buying and maintaining police cars.

Two of the outfitted police vehicles are on patrol now, and St. Helens Police Chief Brian Greenway said he expects all of the department's vehicles to be ready to go in the next couple of months.

The average cost to obtain and properly outfit a new vehicle averages about $63,000, SHPD Sgt. Jose Castilleja explained. Vehicle safety features include armored doors, rear-view cameras, intelligent light bars, touchscreen interfaces, increased lighting and all-wheel drive.

The police department also has a specially outfitted vehicle for Officer Jon Eggers and Ryder, a K9 officer. Vehicles equipped for K9s have additional safety features like a built-in aluminum kennel with rubberized floors to keep the dog safe while the vehicle is moving.

Eggers explained that K9s spend a lot of time in the police vehicle and safety features help protect the dog when left alone in the car. An internal heat sensor monitors temperature. When the internal heat threshold is exceeded, the vehicle automatically rolls down the windows and powers on a fan in the dog's kennel. It also activates an SOS horn to alert the K9 handler. Eggers added that he has a remote trigger that also pages him when the car becomes too hot, and has an emergency button that can open the door if needed.

Equipping vehicles for police dogs is slightly more expensive, but only a few thousand dollars, Castilleja added.

The vehicles will also feature a new look with a navy-blue body, white doors and a reflective logo to increase nighttime visibility, a press release from the city stated.

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