New vehicles approved for Sheriff’s Office

Published 5:04 pm Tuesday, October 4, 2022

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GATESVILLE – After months of pleading combined with outcries of the public, Gates County Sheriff Ray Campbell had his request granted to upgrade his department with three new vehicles.

Following yet another round of public comments heard in support of the Sheriff’s request at the Sept. 21 meeting of the Gates County Board of Commissioners, the county’s elected leaders voted 5-0 to spend $135,000 to purchase three new vehicles.

The money will be taken from the General Fund Balance.

“I got a call today (Wednesday, Sept. 21) and have two potential new hires [deputies], so if we purchase three new cars that will leave me one spare vehicle,” Campbell said as he addressed the commissioners.

The Sheriff supplied the commissioners with a list of his vehicle inventory. Of the 15 vehicles currently used on a regular basis, only two are relatively newer models (purchased in 2021). The remainder consists of one 2010 model, one 2014 model, five 2016 models, one 2017 model, three 2018 models, and two 2019 models.

With the exception of one 2016 Dodge, all of the vehicles manufactured in 2016 and earlier have in excess of 108,000 miles of wear. For the 2010 model, the Sheriff noted that the cost of repairs is more than the actual value of the vehicle.

“We do everything we can [regular maintenance] to keep these cars on the road as long as we can,” Campbell remarked. “These are patrol vehicles…they are driven hard, they idle long; they’re not your family style car.

“I can’t protect the citizens of this county without vehicles,” the Sheriff stressed. “Half of our cars have over 100,000 miles. Two cars are damaged, one with a blown head gasket and the other was rammed and totaled during a chase.”

The insurance claim on the wrecked vehicle will only pay $13,261.

As for the vehicles purchased last year for the Sheriff’s Office, two were new (2021 models) and two were used, to include a 2017 Ford Explorer used by the Sheriff. Campbell said that money ($153,000) was moved out of the inmate housing line item within his annual budget. There was no capital outlay in last year’s budget for the purchase of vehicles.

“When I started out as the Sheriff, my capital outlay for vehicles was $75,000,” Campbell recalled. “The second year was cut to $35,000. The third year was $35,000 and that was the year there was a mistake made in the [overall] county budget and I gave that $35,000 back to help balance the budget.”

There was discussion about an $84,000 grant the Sheriff’s Office received last year from the state. However, it was learned that money was applied to supplement purchases of office furniture, make office repairs, and for specialized law enforcement equipment and weapons.

“I think we’ve talked enough about this; we know what we need and we know what we need to do,” stated Commissioner Jonathan Craddock, who then made a motion to approve $135,000 to purchase three new vehicles.

Commissioner Ray Freeman offered a second and the motion was approved without objection.

In another matter at the commissioners meeting involving the Sheriff’s Office, Campbell’s proposal to assume authority of E911 Dispatch will be voted on at the next regularly scheduled meeting of the commissioners (Oct. 19). That delay will give County Attorney Pitt Godwin time to draw up a resolution regarding that proposed transfer of a county-operated department.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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