Help rolls to New Orleans
NCCo police cars being sent to help folks in need
BY ANGIE BASIOUNY / The News Journal
09/09/2005Workers peeled back the transfer paper on the shiny white Ford Crown Victoria to reveal the bright blue logo underneath: a crescent and star with the words New Orleans Police Department.
The car is one of 30 used New Castle County Police Department cruisers that are being reconditioned and donated to the hurricane-ravaged city on the Gulf Coast as a gesture of help from one government to another.
It's a gesture that began with a friendship formed seven years ago between New Castle County police Capt. Debra Rees and New Orleans Police Chief Eddie Compass when they met at a law enforcement conference in Boston.
"I was frantically trying to get in touch with him after the hurricane to find out what we could do," Rees said Thursday. "I said, 'What do you need?' And he said, 'We don't need people, we need police cars.'"
So Rees took the idea to her superiors, who discussed it with County Executive Chris Coons, who put a plan into motion.
The cars were to be sold at auction and have about 100,000 miles each. But officials promise they are in good condition, so much so that New York City cab companies are often the first to snatch them up at auction. They usually fetch between $1,000 and $2,000.
"We take good care of our cars," fleet manager Jonny Culp said.
Each car goes home with an officer and gets regular maintenance, including oil changes every 3,000 miles.
The lights, sirens and backseat cage had been removed from the cars in preparation for sale, but are being reinstalled to send to New Orleans.
Sign Express of Newport donated the logos for the cars after county employees looked up the design on the Internet. Members of Diamond State Ambulance company donated time to help rewire the equipment in the cars. The cars will have everything except the radios, which would not work in New Orleans.
"We're making sure all the systems are as good as we can make them before we ship them out to New Orleans," Coons said. "So they will be ready to roll."
Officials are working out the details of the transport, but hope to get the cars to the city by early next week.
The county also has four police officers, two dispatchers and an emergency management official on standby to go to the troubled region if called.
Contact Angie Basiouny at 324-2796 or firstname.lastname@example.org
How their cars used to look like