MILLEDGEVILLE — Taking full advantage of the 2012 Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) program, the Baldwin County Sheriff's Office bought two Kia Optima cars now assigned to courthouse duties.
The fuel-efficient 2013 models primary use won't be transport, but they can still respond to calls and backup units.
Capt. Lynnette LaRocque tried to find more green friendly vehicles on state contract but came up empty. When the Kia brand was selected, a bid went out because the maker wasn't under contract, which Macon's Hutchinson Kia won.
Court services supervisor Capt. Scott Deason said the first officer using the striped out Kia is getting 26 miles to the gallon compared to 12 miles per with an old Crown Victoria cruiser. Deason believes over time the cars will prove more than cost effective.
Sheriff Bill Massee likes that the Kia Optima is Georgia made in West Point. With an active courthouse and duty to serve civil papers, the cars serve a wide variety of tasks.
LaRocque said the 10-year 100,000 warranties help tremendously.
The Kia's came fully equipped for $20,000 a piece compared to around $27,000 for the typical cruiser. Features like a rear back up camera add to the utility.
The sheriff said monitoring the performance and maintenance cost over the next year will determine whether additional smaller cars are on the way. He estimated saving the county nearly 75 percent with the new models.
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