Sheriff Jeff Richards received the green light Wednesday morning to rev up his fleet of vehicles.
The Franklin County Board of Commissioners voted to accept a bid from Overland Park Jeep Dodge Chrysler, the low bidder, for three new Dodge Chargers at a total cost of $59,850 — after $8,700 was deducted for the trade-in of four Crown Victoria vehicles, according to county figures.
“This was all set in place before I assumed this office,” Richards said. “All I’m doing is taking action and asking to set in motion what was already in place.”
Richards, who was nominated to be sheriff by the Franklin County Republican Central Committee and appointed by Gov. Sam Brownback, was sworn in to office April 10 after former Sheriff Jeff Curry’s April 1 resignation.
The new Chargers would replace four older Crown Victorias because of the amount of miles on the cars, Richards said. The bid for the new Chargers expires soon, placing urgency on the need to order the vehicles now.
“That price [$22,850 per vehicle] expires next Monday,” Richards said at Wednesday’s meeting. “If we don’t have those vehicles ordered by then, the vendors tell me we would have to wait until July, and we’d be getting 2014 vehicles. And those don’t even go into production until the end of this year, so there is a time crunch.”
The vehicles for the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office are purchased on a rotation basis, Richards said. The department is working toward converting its fleet to Chargers, since Crown Victorias are no longer manufactured.
“The vehicles are set up on a rotation cycle so you don’t have to replace all vehicles at once,” Richards said. “They get into so many miles, financially, it makes more sense to have them replaced so repair costs don’t get too high.”
Uniformity is important from an equipment standpoint, Richards said. The deputies who drive the Chargers are happy with their performance, and having the same kind of vehicles ultimately will mean fewer new equipment purchases, he said.
“I preferred to keep uniformity in the fleet,” Richards said. “There is no vehicle comparable to the Crown Victoria where the equipment would transfer over. We have six or eight [Chargers] already, and from an equipment perspective, it makes sense to have them all the same.”
Some of the equipment inside the Crown Victorias can be transferred to the new Chargers, but a lot of the equipment cannot, Richards said. The equipment from the Crown Victorias that cannot be transferred will have to be purchased.
“We’ll use as much from the Crown Vics as possible,” Richards said. “Some radios, lights, sirens and other stuff can be brought over, but we’ll have to buy all new consoles and stuff to install them, because we don’t have the mounting brackets.”
Familiarity is another key reason for the uniformity in vehicles, he said.
“If a deputy has a car go down and they have to drive someone else’s car, they’re familiar with the Charger,” Richards said. “ ... If they get into another Charger, everything is in the same spot and they’ll be used to how it drives.”
The money for the new Chargers would come from taxpayer funds — the main reason the department went with the lowest bid, Richards said.