MADISON, Ala. (WHNT) - Madison Police received a much-needed Christmas bonus that will save both the department and taxpayers money.
Thanks to a $320,000 grant from the Alpha Foundation, Madison Police will be able to buy eight, new, fully-equipped patrol vehicles.
"We're just thankful that they looked upon the City of Madison and said we'd love to give you $320,000 for eight police cars," said Mayor Troy Trulock.
Madison Police Chief Larry Muncey first received the news Thursday and the city council approved acceptance of the grant Monday.
"It's mind-boggling, it really is," said Muncey.
Muncey says the donation helps to fill a huge need for the department, which currently uses 82 vehicles, but requires 83.
Roughly 40 percent of them have more than 100,000 miles on them and some more than 200,000 miles, which Muncey says puts both officers and citizens in jeopardy.
"You and I are driving back and forth to work, it's not a big deal, but if you're out on I-565 and you're chasing somebody that just robbed a bank or they've kidnapped a child, and you're driving 100 miles per hour-plus, it's a big deal."
Madison City Council recently approved a long-desired replacement schedule for the city's police vehicles bolstered by the city's half-cent sales tax. The schedule calls for three new rigs to be replaced annually.
Muncey says the three budgeted vehicles are already in-use and the vehicles to be bought with the donation will be ordered by the end of the year. The addition of 11 new vehicles to the department's fleet will help save money on both repairs and maintenance.
The donation also comes at a time when Muncey says tensions run high for many police officers
"To me, really in this atmosphere right now, what's going on in our community and going on around the world, it's an all-time low for a police officer, I can't imagine why anybody would want to get into this profession in this atmosphere. So officers begin to think that everybody hates them, that their job is not appreciated."
"Then when you have an organization like the Alpha Foundation that comes forward and says, here's $320,000 to purchase cars with because we know you need them and we appreciate your service, it's a huge, huge morale boost and the officers, they're on cloud nine right now."