News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local & Bistate

February 18, 2014

Sheriff Dept. making move to SUVs

TERRE HAUTE — Vigo County deputy sheriffs will soon be driving the Ford Explorer-based Police Interceptor Utility as their standard road patrol vehicle.

The county last week began receiving the first of 27 police interceptors under a five-year lease with Ford. The county will pay $166,000 annually over the $830,000 lease, said county Auditor Tim Seprodi. The county will own the vehicles at the end of the lease.

The funds will be paid from the County Adjusted Gross Income Tax. The Vigo County Council began funding the county’s public safety budget from the income tax in 2013.

“This is the best way for the county to replace a large number of vehicles at once. After that, the county will likely replace the vehicles in smaller numbers, unless the department gets a deal like this again,” Seprodi said.

The vehicles, which will arrive in staggered deliveries, will be the standard Indiana sheriff’s Arizona beige, with gold/brown sheriff lettering. The vehicles will have low-profile emergency lights.

Vigo County Sheriff Greg Ewing said the county department, in a cost-saving measure, is outfitting the vehicles, which takes about one week per vehicle. In addition to installing lights and decals, each vehicle requires a new interior cage, to work with side impact air bags.

“You will start to notice them on the road in the next couple of weeks and in more numbers through the next 27 weeks,” Ewing said.

The sheriff said he made the decision to move to the sport utility vehicles to better meet demands of the department.

“It is just more practical for the sheriff’s department,” Ewing said. “We have to travel along the river bottoms, along low-level county roads that are gravel and in the spring become a soupy, muddy mess. And we have situations such as this winter. We can better respond, as the [sport utility] vehicles have four-wheel drive capability.

“All the road patrol will have the new vehicles,” the sheriff said. “We run cars every bit of five years. We are still running some 2007 vehicles.”

Ewing said Ford ended its production of the Crown Victoria sedan, of which the department still has several. Those vehicles will be distributed among the county’s nine detectives, Ewing said.

Because the vehicles were offered through a state bid, the county’s Emergency Management Agency obtained two Explorers, the county’s Area Planning Department obtained one Explorer and the county surveyor obtained a Expedition, a larger vehicle. Each of those county department budgets will pay for the lease of those vehicles.

In addition to being versatile, Ewing said the new vehicles will have lower maintenance costs and are equipped with V-6 engine that outperform some V-8 engines while providing slightly better fuel mileage.

“They get up and go and are fast. But how fast do you really need to go? You can’t outrun a radio,” Ewing said of the ability to pursue other vehicles.

Reporter Howard Greninger can be reached

at 812-231-4204 or howard.greninger@tribstar.com.


 

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