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S.W. MERCER COUNTY Police panel seeks to reduce fix time for department cars



Published: Wed, August 15, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



The commission is hoping to curtail some repairs.

By HAROLD GWIN

VINDICATOR SHARON BUREAU

FARRELL, Pa. -- The Southwest Mercer County Regional Police Commission hopes new policies will help curtail the rash of damages being done to police cars.

James DeCapua, commission chairman, said the Mercer County Regional Council of Governments, which took over maintenance and repair of the commission's police vehicles in January, has been overwhelmed by the number of repairs.

The idea was to save the commission money on vehicle repairs by doing it cheaper than private garages would.

"We've accomplished that. We're just getting inundated," DeCapua said after a police commission meeting Tuesday.

DeCapua is also executive director of the Council of Governments (COG).

Here's the problem: It's gotten to the point where work on police cars is taking up all of COG's mechanic's time and care of COG public transit buses has become secondary, he said.

The mechanic can keep up with normal oil changes and repairs of parts that fail but there has been a lot of repairs made necessary by impact damage, he said.

Bent tire rims, front-end alignments, bent axles and collision damages are repairs the commission may be able to reduce by changing policies on vehicle usage by police officers, DeCapua said.

The commission has asked Police Chief Joseph Timko to come up with some recommendations for new policies regarding speed, off-road driving and other vehicle usage that could reduce the number of impact damages, DeCapua said.

How serious this is: If the number of repairs can't be reduced, COG may have to drop its service contract with the commission and that means the commission will have to go to private repair facilities for service, he said.

COG isn't willing to have the maintenance of its transit buses take a back seat to police car repairs at the COG garage, he said.

The commission agreed to delay discussion on the matter until Timko comes up with some policy recommendations, hopefully at its Sept. 11 meeting, DeCapua said.




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