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Sheriff's Office Explains Multiple Vehicle Purchase Requests

Tana Weingartner

Correction 10/27/2015:

The request from the Sheriff’s office is not a supplemental appropriation.  Hamilton County Budget Director John Bruggen says all of the vehicles are within the capital spending authority approved by the Commission.

Original story 10/26/2015:  

Hamilton County Commissioners are concerned about the number of supplemental funding requests coming from the Sheriff's Office.  Commissioner Todd Portune says it seems like every week there's a request for one or two new vehicles.

“And you add it up over a length of time and it equals a lot of vehicles,” Portune said.

Fleet Manager Lt. Tory Smith says supplemental requests come, in part, because vehicles are purchased for different reasons.

“I may be purchasing a vehicle for internal affairs or a vehicle for the corrections division.  When it comes to marked police cars, we do purchase four, five, six, eight, ten, (or) eleven at a time. Whereas this section or this division of the sheriff’s office, maybe they only need one car,” Smith says.

He also says a member of the county's purchasing department suggested breaking up purchases instead of one year-end request.

Smith says sheriff's cruisers need to be replaced from time to time and the department's fleet is aging. “After 2008-2009, we weren’t purchasing vehicles at the rate that we did 10 (to) 15 years ago.  And we’ve got a lot of vehicles out there with a lot of high mileage and they’re just, quite frankly, worn out.”

He says there is a standard for considering replacing a vehicle. It includes the condition, the mileage, and the age.  Smith says safety, appearance, and cost of maintenance also play a role. 

And sometimes there are other factors.  “For instance the prisoner van we just got rid of, (that) we sold to Grant County, Kentucky. That van was identical in configuration to the prisoner van that was used in Baltimore in the Freddie Gray incident.  We certainly don’t want that to happen here.”

Gray died in April, after suffering a spinal cord injury while in a police transport van.

Smith says when the Sheriff's office buys new vehicles it looks for the best deal possible.  The purchase is put out for bid or it's handled through a dealer with a state contract.

Commissioners were concerned the Sheriff's Department was bypassing its original budget.

There's are two public hearings remaining on the general fund budget:

  • Monday, October 26, 6:30 p.m., Delhi Township Administration Building, 934 Neeb Road.
  • Wednesday, October 28,6:00 p.m., Springfield Township Senior and Community Arts Center, 9150 Winton Road.