Chelsea COP expands patrol vehicle fleet

Chelsea COP members Bob Bush, Robert Everett and Donald Shirley stand next to the latest COP patrol car acquisition, a Ford sedan the county donated to the city about three months ago. (Reporter Photo/Emily Sparacino)

Chelsea COP members Bob Bush, Robert Everett and Donald Shirley stand next to the latest COP patrol car acquisition, a Ford sedan the county donated to the city about three months ago. (Reporter Photo/Emily Sparacino)

By EMILY SPARACINO / Staff Writer

CHELSEA – The Chelsea Citizen Observer Patrol’s fleet of patrol cars is another set of wheels stronger.

With its newest acquisition rolling in about three months ago, the Chelsea COP currently has five vehicles at its disposal for patrolling the streets of Chelsea and answering emergency calls.

“Two of our older first cars are just about worn out,” COP member Donald Shirley said. “Any time we get another, we use the old ones less. Right now we have all we need.”

The COP patrol cars include the following: A 1998 or 1999 Ford sedan, the first car the county donated to the city of Chelsea for the COP to use in 2000; a 1998 Ford sedan, the second car the county donated to the city a year later; a 2004 Ford sedan the city purchased in 2006 or 2007, which is being repainted; a new 2013 Ford Expedition the city purchased about a year ago; and a 2002 Ford Galaxy the county donated to the city about three months ago.

Shirley, who oversees the maintenance of the COP vehicles and drives them frequently for patrol, knows the wear and tear the vehicles endure perhaps better than anyone else.

“If they need new tires or an oil change, that’s my job,” Shirley said.

When the COP acquires another vehicle, a tag, title and insurance for the vehicle are secured first, and then, decals and paint are applied, he said.

All COP members that drive the patrol cars must complete driving school beforehand for insurance purposes.

“We’re all certified,” Shirley said.

The number of patrol cars being used at any given time depends on emergency calls and other events, such as school starting again and high school football traffic in the fall.

“We’ve constantly got things of that nature coming up,” Shirley said.

For Shirley, the nearly 40 hours he logs for the COP each month are spent on more than just patrolling.

Shirley said he recently answered a phone call from a resident who needed help removing a snake from her house late one night.

“Whatever somebody calls on, there I go,” Shirley said. “It’s fun to me.”

Shirley has been an active COP member for about 14 years, and was the 28th person to join the program shortly after its inception about 15 years ago.

As the group’s longtime “maintenance supervisor,” Shirley is content staying busy with the all-volunteer organization, comprised of more than 60 members.

“I’m retired. I don’t want to sit home and do nothing,” Shirley said. “As long as I’ve got the energy, I’m going to help somebody or do something.”