Butler University Police Department added a brand new Dodge Charger to its fleet to replace a car with upwards of 100,000 miles on it.
BUPD Police Chief Ben Hunter said the new vehicle was the best option for the department and the university.
“We looked at three different cars, and the Charger was the cheapest one at $22,000,” Hunter said. “We had to buy it to replace another car that had 100,000-some miles on it.”
The Dodge Charger is a sedan with a muscle car’s reputation, something Hunter acknowledged.
“We know [the Charger] doesn’t look like a traditional police car,” Hunter said. “But the Indiana University police department uses them, and the state police just ordered 900 of them.”
Hunter said that the department needed the new car in order to effectively serve the community.
“Because we run 24 hours a day, we need a fleet that’s large enough to have downtime,” Hunter said. “Our cars can run upwards of 20 hours sometimes.”
With the heavy usage of BUPD’s cars, Hunter said that it is more economically practical to replace cars as they get older.
“We run into cost after cost when a vehicle is out of warranty,” Hunter said. “It costs us more money to keep [older cars]—getting new engines, fixing transmission issues.”
Some students are questioning the purchase.
“I feel like [the Charger] is a waste of money,” freshman pre-pharmacy major Lauren Malson said. “A police car is still a police car regardless of the model.”
Hunter said that his department has budgeted to replace vehicles through the next few years as they run out of service. As of this year, the Charger is the only new vehicle—although all vehicles were given new decals designed by a student.
“Officer Kennedy reached out to a student for a more professional look,” Hunter said.
Hunter said he would also like to add more green options for patrols but is challenged by practicality issues.
“I’d feel less safe with the green patrols, because the vehicles provide a much faster way of getting to a problem versus walking or Segway,” Malson said.
Another upgrade in public safety is the expanded operations room located in BUPD headquarters.
The operations room is a dispatch room where BUPD takes calls and responds to emergencies. In years past, the operations room was manned by one person.
“Now if we have a situation we can have multiple people in the room to respond to it,” Hunter said. “This will help with emergency response and major events coming up on campus.”
Hunter said students should expect upgrades and changes in BUPD equipment as the awareness of public safety increases with the growth of the university.