The city of Hillsdale’s Finance Com­mittee con­vened on Nov. 1 to discuss the replacement of a police vehicle totaled by a parolee on methamphetamine. 

The man, who was alone in the vehicle, totaled it in August 2020, according to Jake Hammel, director of public services.

“A parolee on meth was able to get his cuffs in front of him and kick out the cage window and crawl through to the front seat,” Hammel said. “Then drove through the woods and made it through about three trees and finally got to one big enough that he couldn’t drive through.”

No officers were in the car at the time, said Police and Fire Chief Scott Hephner, who serves on the committee.

“They had made an arrest, and they were still dealing with other people on the scene,” Hephner said. “We have a prisoner screen in our vehicle, and he was able to kick out the little slide window and somehow squeeze through there.”

No one, including the parolee, was injured, Hephner said, but the vehicle was totaled.

The city’s finance com­mittee, which includes Hammel, met to review the charges of the new vehicle.

“It was not bud­geted to buy a new vehicle,” Hephner said. “We have an equipment millage for fire department equipment and public safety equipment, so we had to use money out of that to finish pur­chasing the vehicle.”

Hephner said there were massive delays in pro­duction because Ford was back­logged with orders placed before the company shut down pro­duction. Then, there was another backlog as depart­ments got in line to have their new emer­gency vehicles outfitted. 

“COVID’s killing us right now,” said Ward 3 City Council Member Bruce Sharp, who is the chair­person for the finance committee,

Hephner said the delay was worth­while, because he has “100% faith” in the company doing the outfitting. 

The new police vehicle is now in service, according to Hephner, com­plete with a steel screen for addi­tional security.

“There was no way anybody should have been able to get through,” Hephner said, “but now absolutely nobody can get through our screens.”

“There’s never a dull moment it seems in Hillsdale,” Hammel said.