Earlier this year, the city promised the Huntington Police Department two things: more cops and more cars. On Tuesday, that goal became a reality when the city unveiled five new police cruisers for HPD, as well as two additional officers.
“This is a proud day for the city of Huntington and it’s very important that we have this equipment so we can properly police the city,” said Huntington Police Chief Hank Dial.
City council approved the purchase of five vehicles for the department in the 2017-2018 fiscal budget, with the final cost coming out to $227,712. Now that purchase can be seen in action.
“This has been coming for some time,” said Huntington Mayor Steve Williams. “We knew that we needed to make sure they had the cars and equipment to feel safe, but also to square their shoulders and feel proud. The swagger is back in HPD.”
The vehicles include new graphics that were initiated by Huntington police officers and then created digitally by Westmo Media, which is owned by retired officer Daniel Wiles and his wife, Ashley. The new design includes HPD’s patch, which can be easily identified and symbolizes the department, and displays the word “Huntington” bigger than the word “police.”
“You’ll see that the word ‘Huntington’ is more prominent than the word ‘police,’ said Chief Dial. “This was done to send a message to our community that their police department and our commitment is to protect them.”
The city’s addition of two new police officers brings HPD’s staffing level to 90 total officers. However, the department is still understaffed from the 107 positions the city has budgeted for.
“I need more policemen to fill up all these cruisers we’re buying,” said Chief Dial. “It’s very important to the city.”
“Let’s face it, we’re running our police officers ragged and we need to get those additional 17,” said Mayor Williams. “We’ll do everything in our power to be able to get folks coming in, but we’re not going to sacrifice quality just for quantity.”
HPD believes having new, upgraded vehicles will attract more officers to work there.
“Coming in and having working equipment is important to a police officer, because they come in every day wanting to make sure that the city is safe and that they can get to and from their job to make sure what needs to happen, happens,” said Chief Dial.
In addition to the vehicles revealed Tuesday, Huntington police will also receive five more police cruisers before the end of the year. Those vehicles have been purchased for $225,593 and were included in the current fiscal budget for 2018-2019.