The Pryor Times

Local News

November 16, 2013

Anatomy of a motor fleet; sheriff explains

PRYOR, OK — Debate over department spending prompted Mayes County Sheriff Mike Reed to set the record straight.

“I believe he’s surplussed 19 items with these four, and purchased around 11,” said  Mayes County Commissioner Alva Martin. “Some, I’ve been told, had 50,000 miles or less on them.”

“Also, I understand he’s been getting rid of vehicles that have over 100,000 miles or so, but he bought three vehicles from Oklahoma Highway Patrol then had to turn around and pay $5,000 to put a motor in one,” said Martin.

Martin pointed out that Sheriff Frank Cantey bought an average of three vehicles a year and Wagoner County Sheriff’s Office buys approximately five a year.

“I don’t care how many cars he buys as long as he doesn’t ask us for more money,” said Martin.

Reed was ready to provide numbers, paperwork in hand.

Reed said when he took office there were 18 cars with over 100,000 miles on them, many of which had engine problems or had been wrecked. The sheriff said 100,000 miles on a law enforcement vehicle is a lot different than 100,000 miles on a civilian vehicle.

“We had a blue 2012 Chevy Silverado, fully loaded, what I call off the shelf, meaning not police outfitted,” said Reed. “We do not need a new fancy, four-door, electric window car. I need something we can drive, with a police package. Fancy wears out twice as fast.”

In addition, Reed said there was a white Silverado with the same features.

“There were about five different color vehicles when I started, some were stickered and some were not,” Reed said.

He said he surplussed seven Ford Crown Victorias.

“One was salvaged and sitting out at the fairgrounds, one had 148,000 miles, one had 176,000, one had 264,000, another had 167,000. There was one that had 143,000 that wouldn’t run and one that had 170,000,” said Reed.

He said the vehicles had not had regular maintenance and were not being utilized.

“I surplussed a 2004 Jeep with 140,000 miles and engine problems and a $6,000 golf cart I didn’t see a real need for. I also surplussed a 6x10 trailer and a 5x7 trailer,” he said.

He spoke with the search and rescue officers about the existing four-wheelers and found they would prefer a side-by-side Polaris.

“The four-wheelers were okay but they are single passenger, so what happens when you find the person you’re looking for? Where do you put them?” said Reed, who surplussed the four-wheelers and bought a Polaris.

He said the new units are kept at the ready, on a trailer, so they are ready to be used at a moment’s notice. He said the machines are accompanied by a maintenance log which deputies are required to fill out every month.

This week Reed was approved to surplus four Crown Victorias, all having over 100,000 miles.

“Two wouldn’t even start. They were the worst of what we’ve got,” said Reed, who said new vehicles are under warranty, get better gas mileage and have better safety ratings.

“Of the two Silverados, one sold for $21,500, so we essentially got 90 percent of our money back on it. I anticipate the other will sell for about the same. With that revenue we bought a 2013 Ford police vehicle, so that one’s a wash,” said Reed.

He said the department is given $30,000 a year for lease payments for vehicles. When he took office there were existing leases on three Dodge Chargers, which he said will be paid off within a month or so.

“In the Sheriff’s Service Fee account, there was money that carried over from last year. We bought two four-wheel drive Tahoes for $59,000. Per state legislature, that account is allocated to further the department through wages, equipment, etcetera,” said Reed, in reference to article XVII, Title 19 of a state statute which creates a Sheriff's Service Fee and is intended to “enhance the funding level available but were not intended to fund operations.”

There will be a total of three payments on any vehicle under a lease purchase agreement. Reed said the first payment was made from the revenue that carried over in the Sheriff’s Service Fee Account. The second payment, he said, will come from the revenue generated by selling the two fully-loaded trucks. The final payment will be made using the money allocated every year for lease purchase payments.

Reed said he bought three used Oklahoma Highway Patrol vehicles from the Department of Public Safety, one for himself, one for the under sheriff and one for a deputy, each costing approximately $10,000.

“They have a budget of $2.4 million to operate on every year and he can’t operate within that,” said Martin.

“Because the jail is run from a non-recurring account, the budget fluctuates,” Reed said.

“The Sheriff’s Service Fee and the Department of Corrections numbers changes yearly. One year you may have tons of DOC prisoners, so that revenue will be up, but you also have to feed them so that expense will go up,” said Reed.

He said the $2.4 million was figured using the highest DOC number in recent years as opposed to the average.

“Non-recurring grants were also factored into revenue when that budget number was figured. And they aren’t grants we can count on receiving again,” he said.

Martin pointed out the department is spending money painting the cars black and outfitting them with the vinyl logo.

“This is a high-stress job, they (the deputies) need pride in their appearance and pride in their job. I want professionalism and uniformity across the board, in vehicles and in uniforms,” said Reed “I believe in uniformity. Delano Morgan painted three of the vehicles for a box of donuts a piece.”

Reed said he wants the vehicles to be easily recognized, which will eliminate confusion in traffic stops and will reduce the number of individuals impersonating an officer.

“As for the uniforms, we went door to door and we raised $25,000 in donations so we bought new uniforms,” Reed said, pointing out it all goes back to uniformity and pride.

He said he believes the people that voted for him wanted a young, aggressive sheriff who would be proactive and that’s what he’s trying to give them.

“If you stand for something, there will always be people that don’t stand with you. I’m not a politician. I don’t want everyone to agree with me, that would make me wishy-washy,” said Reed.

“We’re the number one drug capital per capita in the state. Don’t we need to do something a little different than has been done before?” said Reed, who said he is striving to fix the two complaints he received most often when taking office, response time and attitude.

“It’s just like a football team, we’ve got to work together as a team.” said Reed. “My job as waterboy is to make sure they have the training and equipment to do their best then get out of the way and let them do it,”

 

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