County Sheriff's Department trying to enact take-home vehicle program

The Moffat County Sheriff's Department is trying to begin a new program called the Officer Assigned Vehicle Program.

Under the new program the Sheriff's Department would begin acquiring enough vehicles to allow deputies to take vehicles home. The motivation behind the program is it will strengthen community policing, affect the reduction in crime, decrease citizen fear of crime and improve traffic safety in Moffat County, according to Sheriff Grinstead.

Grinstead said the program would also allow for better law enforcement coverage, decreased response time throughout Moffat County and will save long term on vehicle maintenance costs.

"This program will provide for a quicker response time by allowing deputies to respond to calls from their homes instead of coming into the office and getting a vehicle from the motor pool," said Grinstead. "The program will also extend the life of the cars by two to three years because the cars will only be used for one shift a day instead of two or three."

Grinstead is concerned the community will look at the program in a negative way because people will assume the deputies are using the cars for personal use. Grinstead believes strict program guidelines will keep that from happening.

"It is very important to point out this program is a privilege not an automatic fringe benefit," said Grinstead. "We will define what is personal use and what is officer-related. If the program is abused, privileges will be lost."

Grinstead believes the benefits of the program far outweigh the negatives in the long term. The program will also encourage deputies to live further out in the county, adding to law enforcement coverage. He said deputies will take a more personal interest in keeping vehicles maintained, both in appearance and mechanically since they will be the only operators of the vehicles.

Grinstead wants the program to be enacted over a two-year period. He points out this program is the only major change to the Sheriff's Department budget this year and it has been a department goal for him and his staff. He is confident the Moffat County Board of Commissioners view the proposed program in a favorable way.

"I think they will see what the advantages are," said Grinstead. "The only disadvantage is the initial capital cost."

Commissioner Joe Janosec believes the program will benefit law enforcement in Moffat County.

"I think that there is certainly some advantages to the program," said Janosec. "But we have to make sure that we develop some type of safeguard against personal abuse of vehicles, but there are far more advantages than disadvantages."

The initial capital cost of the program is $97,000, including two vehicles being traded in. Grinstead plans to buy the vehicles locally as long as there is a bid within 5 percent of the state bid.

Public opinion of the program will be vital to the success of the program and Grinstead is encouraging anyone with questions or opinions pro or con to call the Sheriff's Department at 824-4495 and give their opinion of the program.

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