County to seek bids on new SUVs

ALPENA — For the last several years the Alpena County Sheriff’s Office has been purchasing low mile used vehicles, as well as some that are leased to use for patrol and other official police business.

At Wednesday’s finance committee meeting Undersheriff Terry King asked the commissioners to accept bids for four new SUVs that will be leased for four years. The committee voted 4-0 to do so and bids for the vehicles need to be accepted no later than March 14 in order to be accepted.

King said leasing vehicles via Ford Credit Corporation will save the county money. He said he would like to purchase four new Explorers that would cost the county about $30,000 a year for all four vehicles. King said after the four years, the county can purchase the cars outright for $1 each. He said because they were acquired new, they should still have relatively low miles on them at that time and estimated there would be only between 30,000 to 50,000 miles on each.

“There would still be a lot of good life left in them,” King said.

King said if the office was to purchase four new Explorers outright it likely would cost the county about $120,000 at one time and that would be difficult to do.

Overall the sheriff’s office and its security personnel at the base have 24 vehicles. King said they are Explorers, except for one Crown Victoria and several pickup trucks at the base. He said having a fleet made up of primarily Explorers helps the deputies respond to complaints anywhere in the county in most conditions.

“They are all-wheel drive, peppy and very versatile. They sit up higher than a car and can go through sand, gravel, mud and snow and not get hung up or stuck,” King said. “We have had no issues with them and they are fantastic vehicles.”

During the term of the lease, King said it is likely there still would have to be several reconditioned or slightly used vehicles purchased. He said that has been common practice for several years and expects it to continue.

The vehicles owned by the county also are well cared for, King said. He said each deputy is assigned a vehicle as their own and they are responsible for its care and maintenance. Because there is little sharing of vehicles, King said the deputies have more ownership in the patrol cars and care for them better than ones that are handed down from shift to shift. Instead the deputies are able to take them home after their shift, which keeps the miles on the cars limited. He said it also is convenient to have the cars at the homes of the deputies should there be an emergency while they are off.

“They don’t have to run to the office, find a car and then go to the scene,” King said. “They can just jump in them at home and go right there and that extra time saved could save a life.”

The current fleet of police vehicles is healthy and King attributes that to the board of commissioners which supports the needed spending for it. He said the base security contract is a factor in helping keep quality vehicles on patrol.

“We are very appreciative of the commmissioners for supporting us and keeping the fleet as healthy as it is,” he said. “The contract with the base has also been a blessing.”

Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at sschulwitz@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews.