Sheriff needs newer vehicles

Many, many times, Steve Knebel told other members, and the public, that the county should be using the proceeds from the sale of the county's coal rights for capital improvements, not salaries. It appears that some of those funds should be used for county squad cars.
The county sheriff, Chris Smith, is driving a pickup truck with more than 150,000 miles on the odometer, one of the vehicles that the department has seized in recent years. He's driving that truck because his regular vehicle, an SUV with more than 180,000 miles, is in the shop … again.
One of his deputies is using another of the seized vehicles.
Another department SUV also has logged more than 180,000, and eight more vehicles have odometers reading more than 100,000.
In fact, only two of the department's vehicles, both of which were purchased in the past year or so – one through a sizeable donation, have less than 100,000 miles on the odometers.
At the very least, it's embarassing to see our sheriff's department driving worn-out vehicles, some of which are not really equipped to serve as squad cars.
But it's much more than embarrasing – it's failing to provide the county's law enforcement officers with vehicles that they can depend on. It's a major safety issue, with officers not being sure that they can respond to emergencies without a breakdown and county residents at risk of not getting help when they need it.
We fully understand that the county is struggling with finances, with staffing cuts a distinct possibility. But, together, the sheriff and the county board need to get together and come up with a plan to address the department's aging fleet of vehicles.
rb

Leave a Comment