County approves bid for six new patrol SUVs for MCSO

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Brittney Burns – Staff Writer

The Macon County Sheriff’s Department will be getting six new vehicles this fall, as commissioners voted to award Jacky Jones Ford, a Georgia-based business, the bid for six new Ford Explorers.

“We appreciate the fact that our manager and commissioners understand the importance of safer, more reliable and far more dependable patrol vehicles than those patrol vehicles nearing 150,000-plus miles.  This year we are able to purchase these patrol vehicles by utilizing the funds we expect to save contracting with our new provider for inmate meals,” said Sheriff Robert Holland.

Earlier in the year, Sheriff Holland led the charge in cancelling the county’s contract with Mission Health Systems, which provided meals to the detention center through Angel Medical Center, and contracted with a new company. The decision saved the county about $150,000 annually, which freed up funds to purchase new patrol cars, without having to add to the department’s overall budget.

State statute mandates that the lowest responsible bidder be awarded the contract. As the lowest bidder, Jacky Jones will be providing the new vehicles to Macon County at a cost of $30,328,82 each for a total of $181,972.92.

The county received bids from two other companies, locally owned Franklin Ford and Parks Chevrolet out of Charlotte.  Franklin Ford narrowly missed winning the county contract, with a total bid about $300 more than Jacky Jones.

In 2016, patrol officers drove an estimated 797,986 miles while responding to a 16 percent increase in the number of calls from 2015 (14,034-16,334) according to figures published by the Macon County Sheriff’s Office.  As demand increases and the fleet continues to age, the higher mileage patrol vehicles have become less reliable which has led to an increase in vehicle maintenance costs and a decrease in overall effectiveness.  According to figures published by the Macon County Sheriff’s Department, 50 percent of vehicles in the fleet are at or above 100,000 miles.

The six new vehicles will be AWD (all wheel drive) patrol SUVs. Each vehicle will contain a new in-car camera as well as spike strip systems and “go bags” containing medical supplies, extra rifle clips and entry tools for “active shooter” and other hazardous situations. The total cost of the six, new, fully equipped vehicles was originally budgeted at $275,720. The final bids came in nearly $100,000 under budget.

The new car purchases will continue to help reduce overall mileage in the sheriff’s department’s fleet.  Reducing overall mileage will lead to increased effectiveness and reliability while reducing maintenance costs.  Macon County Manager Derek Roland strongly recommended that all lower mileage and new vehicles in the fleet be assigned to the patrol unit which currently averages 18,454 miles per vehicle per year.  Higher mileage vehicles in the patrol unit could then be distributed to units such as Investigations, Civil Process, and School Resource Officers, that by nature of those units place less demand on the vehicles.  Rotating these vehicles will allow the Sheriff’s Department to maximize the capabilities of the existing fleet.

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