Storm erupts over Laval’s ‘Mustang Mach-E’ police car purchase

‘This is not the image we want to project,’ Boyer says of costly and contentious deal

Mayor Stéphane Boyer was apologizing last week for the Laval Police Dept.’s $1.5 million purchase of a small fleet of new electric police vehicles – including one for the police chief costing $94,000 – while publicly reprimanding LPD director Pierre Brochet.

In all, the LPD bought 13 Ford Mustang Mach-E’s, as well as 48 charging stations. A contract for the purchase was signed by the city in July 2023.

A Mustang Mach-E all-electric police cruiser similar to the 13 cars purchased by the city last year. (Screenshot photo: YouTube)

One of the lot, which was being driven by the police chief, according to the Journal de Montréal which broke the news, is a Mustang Mach-E GT. With a 488-horsepower engine, it can accelerate from 0-100 km/h in 3.7 seconds and comes with heavy-duty suspension.

We need to talk

“I had a good conversation with the chief of police so that this does not happen again,” Mayor Boyer is reported to have said during an interview with the Montreal tabloid daily. “This is not the image we want to project,” he continued, while adding, “I am not spendthrift in nature.”

According to the JDM, Brochet had been driving the Ford Mustang Mach-E GT for at least four months when the issue of its purchase blew up in the media.

What was all the more embarrassing for the mayor was that he and the City of Laval administration have been pleading with the provincial government for several years now to provide more financial support for police services because of an increase in violent and gang-related crime in Laval.

Electrification program

The other 12 Mustang Mach-E police cars cost $78,000 each, although they have yet to be placed into service. The purchase of the 13 vehicles was apparently part of a larger disbursement approved by city council, which was in turn part of an overall effort to convert Laval’s existing fleet of conventional gas-fueled and hybrid vehicles to all-electric models.

At particular issue in the deal is the apparently inflated cost. The Town of Morin Heights in the Laurentians was able to purchase base-model Mustang Mach-Es for $48,000 each, according to the JDM. Mayor Boyer explained that the higher cost for Laval was largely due to bad timing, since the city made its purchase when the effects of the Covid pandemic were still impacting supply chains and were driving up costs.

Action Laval’s reaction

Action Laval, one of two opposition parties with members on Laval city council, was quick to sniff the potential for scandal. In a statement, the party’s interim-leader, Archie Cifelli, and Saint-Bruno city councillor David De Cotis demanded the city’s auditor-general immediately launch an inquiry into the purchase of what it referred to as “luxury” vehicles.

Laval mayor Stéphane Boyer, left, and LPD police chief Pierre Brochet.

“Our proposal is justifiable due to the fact that the mayor doesn’t answer the media’s questions,” the party said, alluding to the fact that Mayor Boyer initially declined to comment, although he later did so at length. De Cotis, for his part, noted that it was only a few months ago that he suggested city council create a new multipartisan committee to track the city’s finances and administrative issues.

Action Laval voted for it

In its statement, Action Laval maintained it was not aware of how the new police cars would be deployed when its councillors voted in favour of the executive-committee’s recommendation for the purchase.

“They trusted the Laval executive-committee,” said the party, noting that the Action Laval councillors voted while thinking primarily about the fight against crime and that the purchase of new resources was necessary for that purpose.

I am not spendthrift in nature’

Mayor Boyer, apologizing for the outstanding cost

Cifelli suggested that the party is particularly interested in who knew what and when they knew it, and that only the city’s auditor-general can conduct the kind of investigation that could get to the bottom.

“I am asking her to be willing to look into what information was available to the executive-committee when it made its recommendation, and to report back as soon as possible to the city’s elected officials,” said Cifelli.