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July 11, 2014

Sheriff's office upgrades vehicles

MILLEDGEVILLE — Sheriff's office patrol units are hitting the roads with a new look.

The Baldwin County Sheriff's Office has added 14 new vehicles to their fleet and is currently in the process of adding more.

"Our main focus is to stay within our budget but continue to upgrade our fleet," said Maj. Lynnette LaRocque.

The 11 new police interceptors and two Kia Optimas were added to the fleet through grant funding and reduction of job positions.

"We froze two deputy sheriff positions for five years so that there would be a sufficient amount of funds in the budget for the upgrade," she said.  

Their hopes are to purchase more vehicles to add to the fleet through funds from a surplus government auction.

At a regularly scheduled County Commission meeting held July 1, the sheriff's office was approved to add the old Ford Crown Victorias that the new cars replaced on GovDeals.com.

GovDeals.com is a government surplus auction website that allows various government agencies to sell surplus and confiscated items via the internet.

"Out of the 14 vehicles listed, only four of them do not run. They were used for parts, but we figure someone will definitely be interested in bidding because parts for Crown Victorias are hard to find," she added.

Wednesday, as four posted auctions came to a close, the sheriff's office sold a seized Ford Explorer and three 2003 Crown Victorias.

Grant funding goes a long way for the sheriff's office, says LaRocque.

The two Kia Optimas were purchased in 2012 through grant funds. In 2013, new radar units were added to sheriff's office inventory. LaRocque hopes this year grant funding will help purchase in car cameras for patrol vehicles.

"It can be difficult when you're applying," she says. "Restrictions get more strict with each year and there's a small window of opportunity available to apply, but the funding does help out tremendously."

Upgrading the fleet of cars has also saved on maintenance fees.

In a typical year, the sheriff's office may spend an average of $280,000 in maintenance fees. Last year, with the Kia Optimas added to the fleet, the maintenance fee dropped to $120,000.

Gas mileage has improved as well, says LaRocque.

"Our old cars got about 9 to 10 miles to the gallon. Our new ones average about 15 to 20 miles and the Kias get about 20 to 25."

Once money from auction sales is added back to the budget, the sheriff's office would like to add an additional transport vehicle as well as repair any broken equipment, such as tasers, if extra funds are available.

 

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