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Semiconductor chip shortage creates cruiser shortage for Central Ohio law enforcement

The semiconductor chip shortage has police cruisers on back order with no end in sight (WSYX).{p}{/p}
The semiconductor chip shortage has police cruisers on back order with no end in sight (WSYX).

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The ongoing semiconductor chip shortage has driven some local police departments to consider drastic changes.

"It's kind of a perfect storm problem is what you hear from the chiefs," Whitehall Police Chief Mike Crispin said.

Crispin is the president of the Franklin County Chiefs Association. He recently surveyed dozens of members about cruiser shortages and the impacts their departments are facing from manufacturing delays.

"80% of them actually said that they’re waiting on cruisers," Crispin said. "They're looking at 12-18 months out to get cars, as well as actually repairing vehicles is taking just as long."

On top of the chip shortage, supply chain issues are disrupting repairs, with different parts on backorder.

Without new cruisers what does this mean for the public?

"Worst-case scenario is we just don't have new cars, then at that point, we’re going to have to start managing the resources we have, whether that’s doubling up in cars, maybe taking different vehicles, maybe doing more bike patrols," Lt. Jason Stern with Grove City Police Department said.

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Stern said GCPD is still waiting on five new cruisers that were ordered in January. They were supposed to arrive in July, now he's not sure if they will make it by the end of the year.

Each day that goes by just adds more miles onto each cruiser that already sees high numbers, some going well over 100,000 miles.

"We are over mileage on average 40,000 per car," Stern said.

High miles mean more issues for cruisers which creates a safety concern for officers responding to calls.

"We’re having to chase bad guys at high rates of speed, or just normally operating a vehicle in an emergency situation," Crispin said. "It may be a very serious call for service, somebody broke into your house or something of that nature, so the officers are going to want to run very fast to get there right and it breaks down on them."

It could also slow down response time which could affect public safety.

"We want to be able to respond when our community picks up the phone and says hey I need help from a police officer," Stern said.

Some departments are bracing for budget impacts too, with higher mileage cruisers typically needing more repairs that could add up.

"Simple things like a water pump or a fuel pump or just different mechanical replacements that add up to thousands of dollars are going to start to affect our budget," Stern said.

ABC 6/FOX 28 reached out to Ford to ask about the semiconductor chip issues and if the manufacturer will give law enforcement priority. A spokesperson sent this statement:

The entire industry has been managing global commodity issues and chip challenges for more than two years. We continue to work to get our vehicles to our customers as fast as we can.

The chiefs hope they'll get a better answer before someone's life is on the line.

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"It's very difficult to respond if you don’t have the equipment," Crispin said.

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