GALLIPOLIS — The Gallia Sheriff’s Office recently christened two new cruisers in an attempt to keep up with the growing wear on law enforcement equipment and an ever present need for mobility throughout the county.
“Although we are experiencing a reduction in state funding, the county commissioners continue to invest to provide resources and manpower to support our law enforcement personnel as we all work to combat the drug and crime issues that continue to plague our community,” said Gallia Commissioner David Smith. “These new cruisers will be on the road for many years working to keep our community safe.”
“They’re fully equipped and police-packaged interceptors,” said Gallia Sheriff Matt Champlin. “We equipped them with the day-to-day officer in mind to give them the equipment, tools and protection they need along with the police package lights and sirens that are necessary for emergency traffic and to be able to provide visibility in circumstances where we need it.”
“More specifically, we’re focused on mileage and maintenance,” continued Champlin. “We want to keep the mileage in the condition where we know we have our staff in safe vehicles where they can respond to the needs of the public and do it fiscally responsibly. We know that when cars start to rack up mileage, they start to rack up maintenance costs.”
According to Gallia Sheriff’s Office Chief of Deputies Troy Johnson, the sheriff’s office recently retired three older Crown Victoria model cruisers with an excess of 200,000 miles on them because they were becoming unsafe for deputies to drive, among other issues.
The new all-wheel drive 2018 Ford Explorer Interceptors were bought on state bid at $26,880. Those vehicles were also outfitted with specialized gear for law enforcement. Total cost for both vehicles and outfitting was around $75,800.
“One of the things we try and do whenever possible is try and buy diversified vehicles when we can,” said Johnson. “The most popular police vehicle right now is the Ford Explorer. It represents over 50 percent of sales for police vehicles in the whole US. It’s huge.”
Johnson said over the last few years, police agencies attempted to diversify a policing fleet in case particular vehicle model years showed issues. Ford Taurus cars were a popular policing model, but with the recent announcement by Ford that they would no longer be producing the sedans, new options needed to be considered.
“We got to consider some new things,” said Johnson. “We can’t control the pricing on light bars and caging and things like that, but what we try and do is get the same type of vehicle so when that vehicle goes out of service due to either being wrecked or high mileage, we can use that same cage or light bar or whatever and everything. We want to be able to recycle hardware to not spend a gigantic amount.”
“I’ve got three vehicles right now we’ve deemed unsafe to drive,” said Johnson. “I could take a new four-wheel drive Ford Explorer and I can get about six miles to the gallon better than a Crown Victoria. They’re a not as fuel efficient (eight cylinder engine) while Explorers are more fuel efficient (six cylinder engines). We’re getting a better return on our investment with more fuel efficient vehicles.”
Johnson said that with changes to LED lighting on light bars and other such things, the equipment would last longer. He noted the importance that police vehicles often idle during a call or traffic accident. Mileage was not the sole indicator of wear on a vehicle. Some of the sheriff’s office vehicles can average around 25,000 a year. Around 26 vehicles exist in the sheriff’s office fleet. This includes prisoner transport vehicles that are not operated by typical deputies.
One of the sheriff’s office transport vans was bought in March 2017 and then had 7,000 miles on it. It has 90,000 on it as of October 2018, according to the chief. Some prisoners are transported across Ohio as far as Van Wert County on the Ohio and Indiana border as the sheriff’s office attempts to keep up with growing inmate numbers.
Prisoner transport vehicles were just implemented by the sheriff’s office within the last year in an attempt to spare mileage on operating cruisers.
Dean Wright can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2103.