In an emergency, it's what gets police officers quickly on scene. But Rockford Police Chief Dan O'Shea says the department's fleet of roughly 200 marked and unmarked cars needs constant TLC.
"They accelerate hard, they brake hard," says O'Shea. "They're run 24/7 across the city. There's cars that go down for crashes. So we try to keep as many of the marked fleet in service as possible."
O'Shea says even with cars coming in and out of maintenance, there's always enough to respond to the city's 911 calls. But he says many of the squads are starting to show their age.
"They tend to have a lot of issues or constant maintenance needs. We're at the point where we need to replace a majority of our patrol fleet."
O'Shea says exactly how many cars need to be replaced, or what that would cost still needs to be figured out. Mayor Tom McNamara says money is tight for the city as it stares down a roughly six million dollar deficit in the upcoming budget year.
"We're certainly going to have some really difficult budget talks," says McNamara.
But McNamara says he's determined to carve out enough funds to give the department what it needs.
"It's an expense that is not a want, it's a need. It's something we are going to have to make sure we fit into any of the budget recommendations we put forward."
McNamara says the city formed a special task force to get an early jump on budget solutions and recommendations for the city's upcoming budget. He says a formal presentation of those recommendations is expected towards the end of this year.