HANCOCK COUNTY, Ind. — The scenes of bare store shelves and empty car lots have become more familiar as the country deals with supply chain issues.
Along with consumer goods, local fire and police departments are dealing with the same problems. However, the stakes for them are much higher.
“We are going to try and do what we can to best serve our public but you can only do so much with so little sometimes,” Chief Brandon Kleine with the Sugar Creek Township Fire Department said.
Kleine says they’ve experience issues mainly with their EMS and paramedic supplies. However, he says the thing that’s been hardest to cope with is the increasing price of everything.
“We have noticed that we’ve had a lot of vendors call this year and say, ‘hey on this date we are suspecting we’ll have an increase of anywhere from 3 to 8%,’“ Kleine said. “When you are paying anywhere from $2500-$3000 as rough numbers and you put an 8 percent increase on that, that affects how we had to plan that budget the year before.”
Police departments are feeling those same strains as well.
The Greenfield Police Department ordered new squad cars back in March and three of them just arrived. The fourth isn’t expected to be here until early next year.
“That is a lot longer than normal, typically they are about 6 to 8 maybe 10 weeks,” Deputy Chief Chuck McMichael said. “Right now we are spending a lot of money fixing cars that normally wouldn’t still be in our fleet.”
When the supply chain issues will end is anybody’s guess. Matthew Will, an Associate Professor of Finance at the University of Indianapolis, says 92% of everything purchased in the world comes on a ship and the ports are clogged.
“The root cause of the problem is a lot of rules and regulations that have come from COVID and the government just hasn’t gotten rid of them,” Will said. ”It could extend longer because the rules that are being put in place are not rules that are designed to loosen it.”
The police and fire departments are doing what they can for now, but say if these issues persist then public safety will take a hit.
“I don’t think we are at that point right now,” Chief Brandon Kleine said. “But I think it’s some thing that we all have to be cognitive of and watch closely.”