The Pataskala City Council safety committee will meet March 19 at the police station to decide what to do about the city's loss of two police cruisers in a Feb. 20 accident.

The Pataskala City Council safety committee will meet March 19 at the police station to decide what to do about the city's loss of two police cruisers in a Feb. 20 accident.

Officer Adam Beach's cruiser collided with officer Robert German's cruiser when they were turning onto Laurel Drive from Watkins Road while assisting the Licking County Sheriff's Department in response to a burglary call.

Ohio State Highway Patrol Lt. Darrin Blosser said Beach's cruiser rear-ended German's as they were navigating the turn. He said German was taken to the hospital as a precaution and quickly released, but Beach was treated for minor injuries and released the following day.

Blosser said both vehicles were towed from the scene with heavy damage and Beach was cited for failure to maintain an assured clear distance ahead.

"We would do that for one of our own people," he said, adding that police officers don't receive preferential treatment over other drivers in these circumstances.

Pataskala Mayor Steve Butcher said the cruisers were totaled. He also said Beach is back on duty at a desk position.

The loss of the cruisers leaves the city in a bit of a bind.

"We were already budgeted to replace those cruisers this year," city council president Dan Hayes said.

He said the city is scheduled to purchase six patrol cruisers this year.

However, Hayes said, purchasing a police car is different from purchasing a personal vehicle because a private citizen can make the purchase from any dealership at any time. He said the police vehicles are purchased through the state via a lengthy process, so the city won't be able to replace the damaged cruisers any time soon.

"These two were cars that we were double-shifting," Butcher said. "This means with the loss of the two cars we will double-shift four cars, which drives up mileage and maintenance costs while creating some scheduling problems."

He said the city would need to address the loss quickly so it doesn't affect Pataskala's ability to respond to calls for service.

"In addition to the cars discussion, we will discuss with the safety committee the radio communications issues, as well as the training program," Butcher said.

He said the city received $11,000 insurance compensation for each totaled cruiser, which is roughly half the amount necessary to replace them.

So, Butcher said, the police department will consider asking council to use the insurance money to buy a seventh patrol car in addition to the six already scheduled for purchase. Since the accident, the department has eight cruisers in service.

Hayes said the safety committee also will look into the cause of the accident and discuss how to prevent similar accidents from happening again.