Posted: Thursday, March 21st 2013 at 3:43pm
Hall County unveils refurbished patrol cars
By B.J. Williams Editor
When he was running for sheriff of Hall County last year, Gerald Couch promised he would cut costs in the department, and Thursday he displayed a refurbished patrol car that costs thousands less than a new vehicle.
The 2006 Crown Victoria is the first of several the sheriff plans to add to the county fleet.
Couch approached the Hall County Commission in January with his plan to refurbish aging vehicles, rather than purchase brand new ones as a cost-saving measure for the department.
Couch estimated the cost savings for each vehicle will be somewhere in the neighborhood of $17,000.
"The basic package on a new car may be between $26,000 and $28,000, and of course with all the extra equipment that goes into a new car...would run the price up to about $36,000," Couch said.
The refurbished vehicle, which had been in service for 7 years and logged more than 172,000 road miles, now has a new engine and drive train, as well as a made-over interior.
Sgt. Mark Blihovde will be driving the refurbished car.
"It drives just like a new Crown Vic. The suspension is tighter on it, back to what it should be. The steering is back to where it should be as well."
The paint job on the exterior is new, too, and the white paint is less expensive than the gold paint on other patrol cars.
While, those new components were necessary, Couch said not everything on the vehicle is brand new.
"The existing blue lights, the existing radio, the existing siren and the existing cage. The cage that separates the officer from a person that we arrest, that cage only fits a Crown Victoria. They quit making them in 2011," Couch said.
Jacky Jones Lincoln did the mechanical work and Jacky Jones Ford did the paint on the refurbished vehicle and even included a 3 year unlimited mileage warranty.
According to the HSCO, the department has been able to replace only a very small number of patrol cars over the past four years because of budget restrictions. Normally, the department would need to replace about 25 patrol cars annually.
Couch said there are 48 vehicles in the fleet right now with more than 200,000 miles and the repairs on those vehicles are getting costly.
"With this new program, those same vehicles can begin life anew and provide us [the department] with more years of service."
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