Sheriff using Facebook

Much of Tuesday’s Fayette County Board meeting was taken up by issues related to improving the operations of the county’s sheriff’s department, including the use of Facebook.
During his report to the board, Sheriff Chris Smith said that he recently began posting outstanding warrants on his office’s Facebook page.
In the short time that practice has been used, Smith said, “It’s drawing a lot of attention.
“The success rate is extremely high,” he said.
That method of serving warrants has been effective, Smith said, in two ways.
“We have people turning themselves in, and we have people telling us where we can find people,” he said, adding that his department has also conducted a couple of warrant sweeps.
Smith also told board members that he and Jail Administrator J.D. Vieregge are working on the garbage pickup agreement, optimistic that they can lower the county’s cost for that service considerably, and that they are also working on possible ways to lower the cleaning supplies expenditures.
Discussion on one other item presented by Smith at the meeting – the purchase of a new SUV – took up about half of the hour-long meeting.
Smith had received three bids for an SUV – $31,985 for a Chevrolet Tahoe from Arthur Young Inc. of Vandalia, $26,550 for Ford Police Interceptor from Wright Automotive in Hillsboro and $25,974 for a Ford Explorer from Engel Brothers Ford in Farina.
Smith said that he would like to use funds budgeted for vehicle purchases to buy the Tahoe, even though it was the highest bid. He based that recommendation on vehicle features, the history of law enforcement agencies’ use of that vehicle and its higher resale value.
Some board members said they favored either buying a used SUV or using the amount budgeted, $30,000, to buy two regular vehicles.
Wade Wilhour said he “doesn’t like buying new cars,” and compared the idea of the county buying a new vehicle to that of people who do that instead of spending their money on other necessities.
“We, at the county, are kind of struggling,” Wilhour said.
“I think we could buy one (used) with a little under 100,000 miles for about $15,000 – then, you could buy two,” he said.
But, Smith and board member Glenn Gurtner, who serves on the board’s sheriff’s committee, told Wilhour that a thorough search for a vehicle like that has not been fruitful.
“It’s been tough to find anything in that range,” Smith said. “We’ve shopped really hard.”
The idea of using the budgeted amount to buy two regular squad cars, instead of an SUV, surfaced after board Chairman Steve Knebel asked Smith to give the mileage for all of the vehicles in his fleet.
Those mileage figures include those with 215,000, 172,000, 155,000 and 165,000. “Every other one is 95,000-104,000.
“The scary thing is all of those (95,000-104,000) that are coming due at once,” Smith said.
At that point, board member Darrell Schaal said that with those mileage figures in mind, it might be better to buy two squad cars with the $30,000.
But, Knebel contended that a four-wheel drive SUV is needed and also that the county should avoid buying used vehicles because those vehicles could come with problems that need remedied.
“There is a time, in their line of work, that we have to pay the piper,” Knebel said, referring to the need to provide the sheriff’s office with dependable vehicles.
In endorsing the purchase of the Tahoe, Knebel said that he drove one while working as an Illinois State Police officer and believes it is the best option.
The purchase of the Tahoe was approved in a 9-2 vote, with Wilhour and Schaal casting dissenting votes.
Also during the meeting, Smith reported to board members that he and Vieregge went to Springfield to look over the state’s surplus equipment, and that they were able to obtain free of charge a number of items, including LED lights for squad cars, sirens, defibrillators and additional batteries, and flashlights.

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