Seven 2019 Chevrolet Tahoes will be fitted with police equipment in the next month to help bolster Morgan County Sheriff's Office patrols. [MICHAEL WETZEL/DECATUR DAILY]

In August, seven new sheriff's patrol vehicles will be on the road responding to calls, according to the Morgan County Sheriff's Office.

Sheriff Ron Puckett was given the green light to purchase the 2019 Chevrolet Tahoes and have the vehicles oufitted with police equipment when the County Commission on June 25 approved the $366,614 transaction, with primary funding coming from the sheriff’s contingency fund.

Money in the contingency fund comes from pistol permit fees and vehicles and cash condemned during raids and arrests.

“We did the loan for the cars through Renasant Bank, and Sheriff Puckett’s department pays us back,” said Ray Long, County Commission chairman. “The sheriff can’t own county property, of course.” The vehicles will be paid for through a 3.18% interest rate across 36 months, county officials said.

Sheriff office spokesman Mike Swafford said six of the vehicles were purchased from Donohoo Chevrolet in Fort Payne, which has the state purchasing contract providing the least expensive price. He said the vehicles cost $32,016.64 each, with outfitting by Sharp Communications of Huntsville costing another $24,085.

The seventh Tahoe was acquired by trading in a 2012 Ford F250 Super Duty Lariat Edition and a 2008 Dodge Charger that was seized during a narcotics investigation, Swafford said. He said all seven vehicles arrived July 3.

He said the Sheriff's Office considered purchasing the vehicles locally. "We went to Lynn Layton first, but they were unable to fulfill the police package Tahoes," he said. "These vehicles will be worked into the Sheriff Office’s patrol division replacing several older Ford Explorer SUVs and Crown Victoria sedans with over 200,000 miles on them. Many of which were becoming more expensive to maintain than to replace.”

He said he expects the County Commission to approve the older vehicles' sale as surplus on gov.deals.com.

Puckett said patrolling the 579 square miles in Morgan County takes a toll on the vehicles.

“Our vehicles must be able to support our community when they need us,” Puckett said. “By effectively managing our funds, … we are able to upgrade an aging fleet without placing a burden on the taxpayers.”

Chief Deputy Chris Price said the department doesn’t underestimate the importance of well-running vehicles.

“Our patrol vehicles are the backbone of what we do,” Price said. “They have to be able to respond when needed.”

mike.wetzel@decaturdaily.com or 256-340-2442. Twitter @DD_Wetzel.

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