ALPENA — The Alpena City Council voted Monday night to accept Mayor Theron McCammond’s veto of a resolution regarding a police car, but the mayor also told aldermen that another police car is part of an Attorney General’s investigation.
The city had purchased a 2013 Dodge Charger using money from the street fund, which isn’t allowed. As such, the money — about $5,500 — has to be replaced.
The city recently sold some surplus vehicles, which raised about $4,200, but that was still short of the amount needed to reimburse the street fund.
The council passed a resolution earlier this year to take the Charger out of commission until it could be sold or returned to the dealer. McCammond said Monday night that returning the vehicle wouldn’t be possible.
That left the department with only a 2009 Crown Victoria, but it had been stripped of all police equipment in anticipation of selling it. Without radio there is no communication with other officers and without strobe lights the vehicle isn’t easily identifiable as a police unit.
However, McCammond said he had been informed that the Crown Victoria is part of an Attorney General’s investigation and couldn’t be sold.
Alpena Fire Chief Russell Colbert asked McCammond if it was public knowledge the vehicle was part of a probe. McCammond said he had told the council earlier, but hadn’t made any public announcements.
“That’s all I can say about it,” McCammond said Monday night.
JayP Massiet, a special agent with the public integrity division of the Attorney General’s office, confirmed Tuesday that an investigation is underway at Alpena, but he wasn’t certain the Crown Vic would be a part of it.
Massiet also said such investigations can take years to complete, so prospects of a quick resolution are dim. He also declined comment on any specifics of the investigation.
McCammond had vetoed the council’s earlier resolution regarding the 2013 Charger. He explained that the equipment stripped from the Crown Vic is still in city possession, but it will cost about $1,250 to get it installed again.
Not only that, it will take two to three weeks to complete that work. He said the resolution shelving the Charger would leave the department without a police car, so he wanted to see the Charger placed back in commission until the Crown Victoria is ready. The Charger could then be sold and the city would come out about $2,000 ahead after the street fund is reimbursed, McCammond said.
Colbert, speaking up for police officers, said the police department is vital to the city and to his department. He said officers had responded to help with a vagrant who had taken up residence in a culvert near the Highway 412 junction and that helped keep the city safe.
He encouraged the council to remember that better equipment for employees makes their jobs easier and tends to make them work better in the long run.
In comparing the vehicles, the council determined the Crown Victoria, although older, had fewer miles on it than the Charger.
The council estimated the Charger could probably bring at least $3,500. It was fully equipped when the city bought it and could become a police car for another city with little work.
McCammond reiterated that the only reason he had vetoed the resolution was because it decommissioned the Charger and it was needed for use until the Crown Victoria is ready.
Alderman Chris Massengale said the Charger couldn’t be driven until it was insured, but McCammond said that could be accomplished quickly.
The council voted to leave the mayor’s veto in place and have the necessary work done to the Crown Victoria, allowing officers to use the Charger until then.
The mayor had vetoed other ordinances and resolutions, ones he said were actually proposed at budget meetings and were more about “a power grab” than budgetary matters.
In the Thursday Daily Times, we take a look at some actions the council took Monday night.
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