Richmond County Sheriff's Office can't afford to replace 2/3 of its old patrol cars

By: Kate Tillotson
By: Kate Tillotson

The Richmond County Sheriff's Office needs 60 new patrol cars...but because of a lack of funding, they're only getting a third of them.

News 12's Kate Tillotson is on your side with how saving now could cost taxpayers more down the road.

Do we pay for new cars now, or pay to maintain the old ones we have?

It's the million-dollar question plaguing traffic patrol.

Some of Augusta's patrol cars have hit rock bottom.

"You're looking at overheating problems, thermostat problems, alternators going out," says Ron Crowden, director of fleet management.

And for many, with more than 100,000 miles, it's time to be replaced...but there's a problem.

"The tax dollar is not what it used to be. It's not as available as it used to be," Crowden says.

Because of a tight budget, the sheriff's office will have to settle for just 24 new cars this year, versus what it really needs: 60.

According to a recent evaluation, out of 120 cars, nearly half have over 100,000 miles...and most of those are six years old.

"You get into the vehicle, it won't start, it gets hot... so it is frustrating," says Maj. Richard Weaver of the sheriff's department.

And by not buying now using capital funds, the county's allowing its current fleet to run as is...a move creating more maintenance costs paid for by taxpayers.

Maj. Weaver would prefer to buy now.

"I think that would be the smart thing to do. You got a vehicle that's reliable, newer vehicles," Weaver says.

"That's the constant question of all fleet managers and all government entities. Which is better, to buy or to maintain?" says Crowder.

And even when the smoke clears, it's a question that may never be answered.

Ideally, patrol cars would be replaced every four to five years, or once they go over 100,000 miles.

That mileage is very different from the mileage on an average car. Deputies accumulate 36 minutes' run time for every mile, which is twice what a normal driver would.

Mailing Address: P.O. Box 1212 Augusta, GA 30903 Main Telephone: (803) 278-1212 Newsroom: (803) 278-3111 Fax: (803) 442-4561
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