The Columbia County Sheriff’s Office is adding some American muscle to its fleet.
County commissioners are likely to approve the purchase of 21 new Dodge Charger Enforcer pursuit vehicles at their meeting Tuesday, said County Emergency and Operations Director Pam Tucker.
At a cost of nearly $27,000 each, for a total of $560,784, the Chargers will be used to replace vehicles taken out of service because of high mileage, age, wrecks or maintenance issues.
“These guys put the miles on them out there,” Tucker said. “They roll on those wheels, that’s for sure. ... We want them to have good vehicles out there.”
The Ford Crown Victorias currently used by most deputies will not be available in 2012, sheriff’s Capt. Steve Morris said.
The 219-vehicle sheriff’s office fleet currently includes four Chargers, all assigned to the Traffic Division.
When Ford announced the Crown Victoria would not be available, the research began, Tucker said.
The Chevrolet Caprice and Ford Taurus pursuit vehicles also were considered and tested. Drive tests and historical data, including performance and maintenance records, played into the decision.
“Generally speaking, the Dodge Charger has been a reliable performer,” Morris said.
In previous years, Tucker said vehicles marked to be replaced, which could be up to 60 vehicles per year, were replaced. That’s changed, especially last year when budget constraints allowed replacing just four vehicles.
“We’ve really just been replacing the critical needs,” Tucker said.
Sheriff’s office vehicles, which include cars for the Criminal Investigations, Patrol and Traffic divisions, usually last five to 10 years.
Some are sold to other municipalities or as surplus, with proceeds from the sales going into the Fleet Replacement Fund.
Tucker said the total cost for the new Chargers is about $33,000 more than budgeted.
“The sheriff’s office comes in under budget, often substantially, year after year, ever since the Fleet Replacement Fund was established,” Tucker said. “We recommended (to the Community and Emergency Services Committee on Tuesday) and the committee approved for us to make up the difference ... out of the Fleet Replacement Fund.”