By Conrad Dudderar
Yukon’s largest city department will hire three new police officers and acquire five new patrol vehicles during the 2023-24 fiscal year.
The City of Yukon’s record $74.1M budget took effect July 1 with unanimous city council approval.
The Yukon Police Department’s $8.7 million budget is nearly 26% of Yukon’s $33.7M general fund. Personnel services comprise about 83% for the general fund total.
“We didn’t have an overall operational increase in the budget (from FY22-23) that was significant,” Yukon Police Chief John Corn said.
However, the new YPD budget does reflect the addition of three certified officer positions to the department’s ranks.
“Our personnel costs did go up,” Corn said. “That (staffing needs) is something that we’ve been discussing with the city manager and the council.”
Filling the three new “sworn” positions will bring the YPD to 54 certified officers. Thirty-nine of those officers will be assigned to patrol shifts – increasing police coverage across the community.
“It puts one additional officer on each shift,” Chief Corn added.
This increased staffing will allow the YPD to adequately cover all shifts when patrol officers take leave due to injury, illness and vacation, or are assigned to training and other duties.
The YPD’s equipment costs also increased in the FY23-24 budget to purchase pistols, rifles, tasers, body armor, and uniforms for the new officers.
After Police, Yukon’s next largest city departments are Fire ($5.9M) and Street ($3.8M).
The FY23-24 Yukon Police capital budget includes funds to purchase five Chevrolet Tahoes that will replace high-mileage units.
The new units will be fully outfitted with the latest technology before hitting the streets.
“We have to update so many vehicles a year so that we’re not driving our maintenance costs up,” Yukon’s police chief emphasized. “We try to stay somewhere between five and seven (new) vehicles a year.
“That gives us the ability to rotate older fleet out of service and reduce that maintenance cost.”
The YPD rotation program allows the department to keep a vehicle in service for about five years.
A standard vehicle manufacturer’s warranty is now three years or 36,000 miles.
“For a police car, in a year and half, we’ll put more than 36,000 miles on a vehicle,” Corn pointed out. “We’ll ‘drive it out of warranty’ before it will reach the life cycle use.”
Yukon Police has a take-home car program that keeps maintenance costs down. That’s because officers are responsible for the service and upkeep of those vehicles.
The YPD fleet is almost entirely Chevy Tahoe SUVs.
“We still have a couple of Ford sedans and one Ford utility,” Corn noted. “They would be due to come out on the ’25-’26 budget rotation.”
The City of Yukon did not buy new police vehicles during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic because of economic uncertainly and manufacturer shortages.
So, the YPD has had to retain some vehicles that normally would have already rotated out of its fleet.
Still in inventory are 2011 model vehicles with 120,000-130,000 miles, according to Deputy Police Chief John Brown.
AND ANOTHER THING …
Also during FY23-24, YPD officials are working with the Information Technology Department to refurbish the camera and access control system at Yukon police headquarters at 100 S Ranchwood.
This proprietary system was installed when the police station building was constructed in 2008.
Many components have worn out and must be updated and replaced.