Campus Safety upgraded two of its vehicles in September to 2023 Ford Bronco Sports.
The Broncos replaced a 2005 Ford Explorer and a 2013 Ford Taurus that was totaled in a car accident a year ago. The vehicles were bought new in 2005 and 2013.
Rick Tupper, associate vice president for Campus Safety and logistics, said Augustana ordered the vehicles in February 2023 as a part of Campus Safety’s five-year budgeting cycle. Campus Safety selected the Broncos based on their size and model.
“These [Broncos] are all-wheel drive, and they are a smaller vehicle, so the footprints are a little bit smaller, so it should be easier to use them in the small parking lots,” Tupper said.
Augustana purchased the new Bronco Sports through Sioux Falls Ford, the primary dealership the university orders vehicles from. Tupper said the last Campus Safety vehicle purchase was in 2015.
Tupper said Campus Safety purchases vehicles on an as-needed basis and evaluates its cars every year to see which ones need to be replaced.
According to Ford, the cost of the 2023 Ford Bronco Sport starts at $29,215.
Carol Spillum, associate vice president of finance, said in an email that vehicle purchases and leases are generally a part of donor relationships with area businesses, so the cost of these vehicles is confidential information.
Because Campus Safety officers spend a significant amount of time in vehicles, Tupper said they wanted a vehicle that was fuel-efficient and able to get through the winter snow.
Tupper said the patrol vehicles are in service 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and Campus Safety officers use them during every shift, as they rotate between patrolling by vehicle and on foot.
Campus Safety officer Brody Reed, a junior criminal justice and sociology major, said driving around on patrol makes responding to calls easier and faster, especially because supplies are in the cars. The vehicles also help with parking enforcement and medical or safety escorts for students.
“[The vehicles] are driven every single day in all weather conditions, so it takes a toll on them,” Reed said.
Reed said he likes the reliability of the new vehicles, and the upgrade was due for Campus Safety because the previous cars were not working properly.
“The [SUV] windows wouldn’t roll down, AC wouldn’t work, so we were just cooking in there during the summer months,” Reed said.
Some students, like junior Bella Helgerson, a history and secondary education double major, were startled when they noticed the new Broncos on campus.
“Upgrades are needed here and there, but I do think it is kind of unwarranted and not really needed,” Helgerson said. “The vehicles we had before did the job, and if they needed another vehicle they could’ve bought one that was maybe not as new.”
Helgerson said she would have preferred the university spend money on body cameras or more training for Campus Safety officers rather than on new vehicles.
Though some students are upset by the new purchase, other students feel supportive of the Broncos.
Senior Elliot Doyle, a philosophy major, said they believe Campus Safety needed upgraded vehicles because the SUV was almost as old as them and another vehicle was totaled.
“If we want Campus Safety to keep our campus safe, then they need reliable transportation to carry out their duties,” Doyle said.
Doyle said they have heard of people being upset about the new Broncos, but they believe students should realize colleges need to purchase items, such as vehicles, to continue operation.
Reed said he saw student complaints on YikYak, but he thinks the vehicles will make Campus Safety look more professional and represent the university well.
“[The Broncos] will obviously be around for a while,” Reed said, “They’re going to be good for us.”
Tupper said Campus Safety generally keeps vehicles for five years, depending on the maintenance needed, so the Broncos will likely be around for years to come.