By SEAN HARKINS
News Staff Writer
The Alpena County Sheriff Department doesn't do 24-hour road patrol, but it is getting closer to offering the next best thing.
In March 2007, Sheriff Steven Kieliszewski and Undersheriff Terry King drafted a plan to buy more patrol cars, use them less, and spread them out throughout the county.
As part of the plan, deputies would take the cars home with them and respond to complaints from home.
King said there were 27 instances in 2008 that the department was called to service because the Michigan State Police trooper on duty was in another county.
Having the extra vehicles and having them with the deputies allows for a quick response, he said. As an example, he said if there was a problem in Sanborn Township and a deputy lived nearby, they could drive right to the incident. Otherwise they would have to drive their own car to the department - and possibly pass the scene - and get a patrol car and return to the incident.
"It works out very well," King said.
There are currently eight cars that deputies take home, and King said the department is looking to buy one more over the next two years to complete the plan.
He said having the extra vehicles has helped save the county money because it reduces the time each vehicle is on the road and the fuel cost and wear and tear associated with the lengthy road shifts.
"The cars are only going eight to 10 hour days," compared to 16-20 hours per day with a smaller more active fleet, King said.
Having a 24-hour road patrol was too costly for the department, but having the extra vehicles and having deputies take them home is within the budget.
Another bonus of the system is the deputies are using the same car with the same equipment more regularly.
"The deputies like it because it gives them a sense of pride," King said.
The downside is there is a larger insurance cost the county has to pick up, and he said the department is working on ways to help curb that expense.
King said he is thankful the department has gotten many of the vehicles in for a very affordable rate, and four have been donated through the Ryan Seguin Memorial.
Sean Harkins can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5688.