City approves nearly $100k in forfeiture funds for Mebane Police needs

Earlier this month, the Mebane City Council approved a request from Mebane Police Department Chief Terry Caldwell for the purchase of two new police vehicles, along with upgrades to the Police Department's door security and information technology systems. Chief Caldwell requested the usage of approximately $99,000 in funds the City of Mebane has received as part of its cooperation with the U.S. Department of Justice's equitable sharing program, which provides towns like Mebane with monies received from asset forfeitures in cases such as drug arrests or other significant crimes.

At this month’s Mebane City Council meeting, the Mebane Police Department received permission from the elected board to purchase a variety of needed items through the use of forfeiture funds. In all, the MPD received a total of $99,308 from its equitable sharing program with the U.S. Department of Justice to fund five different purchases through a unanimous approval from the City Council. 

The U.S. Department of Justice shares the proceeds of asset forfeitures with local police departments that assist in their efforts. Mebane Police Chief Terry Caldwell requested the City Council approve the purchase of two police support vehicles, an Alpha Card ID machine, upgrades to the Police Department’s security control system, and completing the process of migrating various Mebane Police Department data from server to server through usage of some of Mebane's equitable sharing program proceeds. 

Mebane Police is planning to replace two Special Purpose Vehicles that are currently assigned within the Department’s Support Services Division. The Department is spending $37,786 for a new Ford Explorer that will replace a 2009 Ford Edge with 107,612 miles, as well as $39,510 for a new Chevrolet Tahoe that will replace a 2011 Chevrolet Tahoe with 105,000 miles. 

“We’ve talked at budget time about re-addressing the need for police vehicles. Does this complete the needs the Police Department has?” City Council member Tim Bradley asked Chief Caldwell. 

Caldwell explained that MPD is planning on acquiring two additional police patrol vehicles with equitable sharing program monies later in the year. There was approximately $220,845 in available funding for the Mebane Police Department prior to the recent acceptance of the $99,308, which leaves just over $121,500 at the present time for upcoming future needs. 

Caldwell indicated that the purchase of two additional MPD patrol vehicles with asset forfeiture funds later in the year - once the desired models are available - will bring the Mebane Police Department’s fleet of patrol and Special Purpose vehicles entirely up to date. 

“This (the purchase of the two Special Purpose Vehicles) is a part of it,” Chief Caldwell explained. “We will be coming back to the Council later to complete that (process of upgrading the police fleet). We will be asking to use some additional forfeiture funds to complete the process. The reason we’re not doing it (at this time) is the product we’re looking at is not in production. The time we anticipate it will be back in production in the next month or two. Those will be police patrol vehicles. As soon as Dodge is operational again for that specific car, we’ll be seeking to use some more forfeiture monies to complete that process. And that will bring us up to date.” 

Along with the more than $77,000 appropriated for the two new MPD Special Purpose Vehicles, the new Alpha Card-ID Card Machine will cost approximately $2,102. The Alpha-ID Card Machine upgrade will allow the Mebane Police Department to be more efficient in producing ID cards for its employees. This will ensure that MPD’s sworn personnel will have updated police information, which is required of them when carrying weapons while not on duty.  

Also included in the approved allocation is $10,950 for a new Brady Integrated Security-Door Access system, which will upgrade and improve the security at the Mebane Police Department’s Center Street headquarters, along with $8,960 for technical server/systems migration work that will upgrade MPD’s Records Management System for improved records retention and operability.