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Dallas police chief: Supply chain issues causing new patrol vehicles to sit in lot, waiting for chips

“We have an aging fleet. No one's going to hide from that," Dallas Police Chief Eddie Garcia said. “Help’s on the way, but we're kind of at the mercy of the supply."

DALLAS — Ask Dallas police officers and they’ll tell you: They consider their patrol vehicles their office.

“It has our computers. It has our radios. We communicate, and it gets us to the citizens 24 hours a day. An officer will ride in that squad car for eight hours. After eight hours, they're going to give it to somebody else, and they're going to do the same,” said Sgt. Sheldon Smith, president of the Dallas chapter of the National Black Police Association.

If you dial 911, a Dallas police officer is going to respond to your call in a patrol car.

“The squad cars are needed in order for us to do our jobs,” added Smith. “That's our home away from home.”

But officers recently sent WFAA pictures of units that have over 195,000 miles on them, mismatched doors, loose electrical wires, damaged floorboards, and taped gas covers.

“I know at some stations, especially at Northeast, is the place where we get the most complaints,” said Sgt. George Aranda, president of the National Latino Law Enforcement Organizations' greater Dallas chapter. “Sometimes, there's not a vehicle to be given out to officers, so some of these guys are waiting 30 minutes to an hour just for these vehicles to come back into play so these officers can go to work.”

In a memo sent to officers on July 20 after WFAA asked about the patrol car situation, Dallas Police Chief Eddie Garcia acknowledged his officers’ frustrations, saying the department expects to add 300 replacement units and marked squad cars to the patrol fleet over the next two years.

“We have an aging fleet. No one's going to hide from that. I'm going to be transparent about it. We have an aging fleet,” Garcia told WFAA.

More patrol cars have already been ordered.

Meanwhile, others are sitting in the parking lot at the Naval Air Station in Dallas. 

Because there’s a big problem.

“They're waiting for chips like a lot of other car manufacturers and a lot of other places are waiting for as well. And so they're waiting for chips. They’re waiting for parts,” Garcia said. “From a police department perspective, we're no different than the other consumer. And I know that's been an issue nationally when people are trying to buy cars as well as the wait for that.”

Garcia wouldn’t speak to whether or not new cars should’ve been ordered earlier to begin with.

But if you call 911, the chief said his officers will be able to get to you.

“We really haven't had issues of cars breaking down while en route to calls. Obviously, these cars are aging, but they are maintained,” Garcia said.

“We're working on it. Help’s on the way, but we're kind of at the mercy of the supply,” the chief added.

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