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SWEETWATER (CBSMiami) — The Sweetwater Police Department’s patrol car fleet has seen better days.

Some of the cruisers are 15 years old, and others have been totaled in recent officer-involved accidents.

“There’s a huge need for the revamping of vehicles in the police department,” said Chief Placido Diaz.

But buying new patrol cars and outfitting them with the necessary equipment isn’t in the budget right now for the city, which is currently in a state of financial emergency.

So, Chief Diaz reached out to his former city for help.

“Many thanks again for helping us in our dire times. The city of Miami has been phenomenal donating 10 vehicles,” Chief Diaz said.

Earlier this month, Miami city commissioners passed a resolution to donate several Crown Victoria Police Interceptors and Ford Taurus sedans to the Sweetwater Police Department.

“It’s important to understand that the city of Sweetwater has a very serious economic problem and public safety is paramount. We are good neighbors. They requested those cars,” said Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado.

Regalado added it’s not the first time the city has made a donation like this one.

Per union rules, Miami officers can no longer drive those cars.

“By contract we cannot use those cars. Any car that is older than 7 years has to be decommissioned and off the street,” he said.

Mayor Regalado says removing lights, sirens and other law enforcement equipment from each vehicle costs about $700.

After selling it at auction, the city wouldn’t make much, so commissioners agreed donating is the best option.

While Chief Diaz is grateful, he says this is a temporary fix to the patrol car problem.

“The vehicles are in decent shape but in some cases they’re better than the vehicles here. It’s a stop gap situation in order to alleviate the problem which we hope to fix with an attrition program we hope to put in place,” Chief Diaz explained.

The department now has a policy to hold officers accountable for a certain amount of damage to their vehicles.

As for those donated cars, Diaz says once they arrive sometime in the next few weeks, it will take 14 days to get them road-ready, complete with a new paint job and the Sweetwater Police logo.

Lauren Pastrana

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