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Budget cutbacks could strain next year

Published On: Mar 21 2014 08:29:51 PM CDT

The Pocatello Police Department recently had to cut two percent of their budget. Deputy Chief Jim Peterson says they were lucky personnel could absorb the cost, but they're concerned they might have to cut back on upgrading much-needed equipment.

POCATELLO, Idaho -

For the Pocatello Police Department, there is no such thing as a "buy one and done" deal.  

"That's one thing I've learned being in this position," said Deputy Chief Jim Peterson.  "When you buy something, that's generally not the end of the cost.  There's usually continuing costs and you always have to factor that in."

The most recent costs include 12 new Tasers, costing $870 per case.  Peterson said they can't just replace their current equipment - their current Taser model is being phased out - so the holsters, batteries and warranties that go with their current Tasers won't work with new models.

"We decided to try and just pay for it all this year," Peterson said, "and then we're paid up and good for 5 years on that set.  Then we can look at replacement of the others as we go."

Peterson said one of the big changes he's seen over his 30 years in law enforcement are advancements in technology. Not only do you buy the new equipment but you have to maintain it with upgrades to the hardware, software and any system it works on.

"Because it changes so rapidly and becomes obsolete so quickly," Peterson said, "to stay on top of the technology and to try and keep up with that from a monetary perspective is often difficult."

Peterson said that includes paying for police cars.  They aren't able to buy the same kind of cars because Ford doesn't make the iconic Crown Victoria model anymore.  Instead, the police department buys the Interceptor, which means the cameras, laptops, and any mounts for any equipment in the old cars don't fit the new cars.

While Peterson said the financial struggle of replacing old equipment with new, more expensive equipment will never end, he said it's just part of the job.

"We try to do our best and make the best deals that we can with what money we have so we can provide to our citizens," he said.  "That's really what the bottom line is. That's what we're here to do."

The Pocatello Police Department also bought 21 new Glock model pistols, trading 15 of their current Glocks in.  Discussing the trading and selling of city equipment, Peterson said there is a department-wide auction every year.  The money made from that goes into the general fund of the city.

Chris Cole on Facebook (http://on.fb.me/126vPsW) and on Twitter (http://bit.ly/126vO8n).

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