NORWOOD, OH (FOX19) - Norwood’s police chief tells FOX19 that after simply asking for some new cruisers, he got a nasty reply from the city's safety director.
In an email exchange this week between Chief Bill Kramer and Safety Director Joe Geers, Kramer asked to move forward with ordering new cruisers.
Police tell us some of their cruisers are more than 11 years old with sky-high mileage.
Kramer said Geers’ response came as a shock to the entire police department.
Part his response also had people scratching their heads.
“I hope you understand that the world and the city doesn’t center around your department,” Geers wrote the chief. “If the officers would be more concerned about their driving, maybe the number of totaled police cars would slow down. They should be able to spend more time being concerned about their driving.”
Kramer said Mayor Tom Williams came to him months ago and said he would approach council to approve the purchase.
"So I just thought that they were all on the same page,” Kramer explained.
The incident prompted three Norwood City Council Members to call a special meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday “to discuss the communication and potentially pass a resolution condemning the communication and reaffirming Council’s support for city employees.”
“We were disappointed to read the Safety Service Director’s response to Chief Kramer’s inquiry about purchasing police vehicles," reads a statement from Councilmen James Bonsall and Eric Thompson and Councilwoman Marilyn Hanrahan.
“While Council has no authority over Mr. Geers because he serves at the pleasure of Mayor Williams, we still think it is important to publicly address this issue,” the three said in a statement.
On Friday, Hanrahan said in a statement to FOX19 NOW the first order of business at any level of government is to provide for the safety of its citizens.
“The police department - like with the fire & health department - is there to provide that safety and security," her statement reads.
"I beg to disagree that the city does not revolve around the police department. In fact the city revolves around all the departments that provide services for its citizens. It is surprising that a safety service director would have this opinion of his department. I am very disappointed.”
Police said the only recent crash involving a cruiser they can recall is one in which a female officer’s vehicle was hit from behind, totaling it.
“She had just made an arrest, down on Gilbert,” Officer Joe Mollmann said, "and a drunken-driver was coming at her, I believe head on, so she turned on her lights and stopped the car coming at her the wrong way, while another car comes up behind this, turned out to be an intoxicated person and rear-ends the car and actually crushed the back end to the point where it made it immobile,” said Mollmann.
Officers say the fleet is old and showing its age.
Some vehicles, like a 2008 Crown Victoria, have been in service 11 years.
The average life expectancy of a police cruiser is four or five years, according to police.
Norwood Police Department also has additional staffing tension.
The agency should have 52 officers, per their contract with the city, but the city is in financial crisis right now, so they’ve been told to work with fewer officers.
That would mean 45, but the department is down recruits and working with 39 officers, police said Friday.
Geers could not be reached for comment despite multiple attempts.