By: James Pruitt
THE VILLAGE REPORTER
An aging fleet that carries more expensive repairs has the Williams County Sheriff and Board of Commissioners talking about adding new vehicles.
The department is in the process of adding two Utility AWD Interceptors and would the board approve two new vehicles to replace the current K-9 vehicles. The commissioners met with Sheriff Steve Towns and Lt. Greg Ruskey Aug. 4 to discuss the matter.
Ruskey had been before the board Aug. 1 requesting additional funding and direction on repairing several vehicles in the fleet. The estimated cost was around $11,000 to get all the repairs completed.
While the commissioners directed Ruskey to move money from one line-item to another to pay for the repairs, the matter of two or more new vehicles dominated the conservation.
Ruskey said the board and the sheriff discussed adding four new vehicles to the fleet this year and with two already ordered and being built out, the matter of the remaining two was high on the lieutenant’s mind.
The existing K-9 units both have high mileage (156,000 miles and about 150,000 miles respectively) and are near the end of their lifespans, Ruskey said.
“Those are going to be the two vehicles we are going try to replace for our next two vehicles,” Ruskey said.
The first two new vehicles are going to be road patrol units, Ruskey said. Making the second two vehicles K-9 units will require an additional $3,500 to $3,700 for the cage and other modifications, he said.
Commissioner Brian Davis asked if any of the older equipment is being reused on the new vehicles.
The only items being taken over the new vehicles is the mobile radios, Ruskey said. The other equipment is obsolete, he said.
“The sirens are pretty much obsolete,” Ruskey said. “There is a noticeable difference between a new siren and old siren.”
The problem is the Crown Victoria platforms have changed since their inception 15-20 years ago, Sheriff Towns said. While the department has been able to swap out equipment and make adjustments, the new platforms make such adaptations impossible, he said.
Ruskey has bids for a Ford SUV Interceptor like the one used in Henry County, the Dodge Ram 1500 and the Ford F-150 and the Ford SUV Interceptor. They are the same price across the board, he said.
The vehicles would have the same prisoner transport ratio of two-thirds K-9 and one-third prisoner, Ruskey said. The purchase price for the vehicles are within $1,000 of each other, he said.
“The cages would be the same prices as well,” Ruskey said.
Commissioner Lewis Hilkert doesn’t think the department needs another two SUVs for the K-9 units and expressed favor for the new Ford Taurus units. Towns and Ruskey said they preferred SUVs because it affords more security for the officers and allows taller deputies the room they need to work in an outfitted vehicle.
“The new Taurus is not designed for anyone with a little height,” Ruskey said.
As for vehicle maintenance costs, the department has spent around $20,000 through seven months. Towns said as the fleet becomes more and more outdated, the repairs are getting more expensive.
A new brake module on a Crown Victoria cost $1,200 to replace, Towns said.
Instead of coming up with new money, Davis said the department should move the money needed for the recent repairs from the fuel line item in its budget to repairs. If for some reason, the department runs low on funds for fuel at the end of the year, it can request more money at that time, he said.
James Pruitt may be reached at