News 12 First at Five / Friday, Jan. 4, 2013
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- He's Richmond County's top cop, and if you see Sheriff Richard Roundtree around town, you may catch him in a fancy new ride.
"These vehicles are for service, to service the community," Roundtree said.
Two new service vehicles to be exact -- one for the sheriff and one for his chief deputy.
But the real question is: How much do these shiny new rides cost taxpayers?
"The two we ordered came directly from asset forfeiture money; they didn't cost the taxpayer anything," Roundtree said.
Roundtree says the funds for the new vehicles came straight off the streets.
"Drug money, so we got money back from the drug dealers. We hitting them in their pockets and that money goes right back into the community to service the community," Roundtree said.
Chief Deputy Patrick Clayton says the Tahoes are actually cheaper than the police interceptors, costing around $25,000 a piece.
But not everyone thinks it's the best use of funds.
"Just coming into office, I think that money could be used better for things like police vests -- stuff the department needs," said Augusta resident Willie Davis Jr.
But others say, out with the old and in with the new.
"I think it's a good thing to get new vehicles, it'll be less service on them and everything," said Bundy Amos, an Augusta resident.
And the Sheriff's Office could be seeing a lot more new vehicles.
"We are looking at the SPLOST. As far as vehicles, nothing's concrete yet," Roundtree said.
The force got 26 new police interceptors last year, and Roundtree says he hopes to continue to update the fleet.
"We're trying to provide our officers with the tools to do their job more efficiently," he said.
As for the new police cruisers, the sheriff plans to meet with the fleet manager for the city next week to decide on the fleet's future.