BUFFALO, N.Y. — Reporter: "Is the council aware of the police car shortage within the City of Buffalo?"
Buffalo Common Council Majority Leader David Rivera: "Well, we've heard recently there's been some concern regarding a shortage of new police vehicles. The mayor submitted a budget, the 2019-2020 budget. He proposed 15 new vehicles for the police department."
But could the need be much greater than that?
In a phone interview, Rivera told us he finds those numbers alarming.
However, Council Member Rich Fontana said he's not surprised.
"They asked for 15 cars in the budget, but the department asked for 60 cars. They were only given 15. I was trying to get members on the council to say, 'OK, we'll do 30 this year, at least add 15 more.' No one wanted to vote for it. We didn't get the votes," Fontana said.
Buffalo Common Council President Darius Pridgen said in a written statement, "The Council has been contacted by the PBA concerning a shortage of vehicles. This is the reason I reinstated the Council’s Police Oversight Committee to work out issues like this. The Council is actively looking into the situation to ensure safety of our city and our police force."
Buffalo Police Captian Jeff Rinaldo said they are in need of replenishing their fleet, but at this point he doesn't believe the need is dire.
He also said you have to look at the department's expenses as a whole.
"This year alone, between the body camera program and an anticipated taser program, a lot more resources had to be shifted over to those priorities, which unfortunately did result in a reduced number of vehicles being purchased," Rinaldo said.
He added, "As we get a handle on those additional priorities and as we see exactly what those costs are, that's how we plan for our next budget year on what are now the priorities for the upcoming July 2020 budget."
Does the city have the money to potentially buy the cars that are needed for the police department?
"I mean it's a matter of choices in the budget. If we need police cars, that should be a high priority in the budget," Fontana said.
A spokesperson with the mayor's office told 2 On Your Side they recognize the need to purchase more police cars, but they don't think the problem is as severe as the union claims.
The city is also looking into leasing police vehicles as another option to put more cars into circulation.
The mayor was not available for comment.