Madison County Sheriff Kip Thomas planned to purchase five Dodge Chargers. Trouble was — the dealership, which had them in stock in November, is sold out, with none scheduled to arrive until June or July.
So, county commissioners agreed by a 3-2 vote Monday to allow Thomas to purchase five Crown Victorias instead. Commissioners John Pethel and Jim Escoe voted against the purchases.
The Dodge Chargers were expected to cost roughly $26,000 apiece. And the Crown Vics will be approximately $1,500 more each.
Pethel questioned Thomas about why 38 vehicles are necessary for the sheriff’s department. He said he’s had numerous people question him about how the department arrives at an appropriate number of vehicles.
“People want to know how you determine the number of vehicles you have,” said Pethel.
“It depends on how many are working,” said Thomas.
“But how do you determine how many cars?” asked Pethel. “Do you have so many per thousand (people) or per square mile?”
Sheriff Thomas didn’t specify any formula for determining the number of vehicles in his fleet. He noted that there is a lot of ground to cover in a county of 284 square miles.
Pethel noted that former sheriff Dewey Seagraves had only one car and one deputy.
“We have a lot different problems than what Mr. Dewey had back then,” said Thomas.
Pethel said he prefers Crown Vics to Dodgers, but he added that he couldn’t vote for five cars.
Escoe questioned why the purchases didn’t have to be bid out. But county attorney Mike Pruett explained that the state gets bids on patrol cars for local governments. That way, the state can get a bulk price, instead of each local entity paying more.
Commissioner Stanley Thomas said he was pleased for the county to get Crown Vics instead of Dodge Chargers. He pointed out that the Crown Vic will hold six people instead of five.
“The Crown Vic is better on dirt roads,” he said.
In a separate matter, the BOC agreed to allow an old county ambulance to be converted into a crime scene investigation unit vehicle for the sheriff’s department.
I appreciate Mr. Pethel's pushing his question about a basis for the number of vehicles required for the county. Sheriff Thomas, obviously, had no answer and should have acknowledged such by promising to provide some kind of basis after some research. I am disappointed that sheriff Thomas chose to try to sidestep the issue with vague, off-the-mark comments.That does not inspire confidence.
02/01/11 at 11:36 PM
That's an astute observation about the one holding six people and the other only holding five...
I couldnt help but laugh about this and feel I must share. Mr. Pethel, Dewey Segraves ran the sheriffs office with one car and one deputy, but that was in 1960's....ALOT has changed my dear. I sure do hope you retire after this term, because you are seriously OUT OF DATE. LOL!!!