Fleet Frustrations: Sheriff, County Go Back and Forth on Need for New Squad Cars

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Police officers rely heavily every day on their squad cars to get them where they need to go and keep them safe in emergency situations.  But officers at the Stephenson County Sheriff’s Department say many of the important functions on their cars are failing.

Stephenson county Sgt. Ken Nesemeier responded to a car accident call on Saturday, and his dash-cam video from that day revealed a major emergency function on his squad car had failed.

“The lights and the siren cut off,” explained Sgt. Nesemeier. The lack of which forced Nesemeier to drive the speed limit the next five-plus miles to the scene.

“We only have one opportunity to do these calls,” said Sgt. Nesemeier, “and if this equipment is failing when we’re trying to do these calls, then it’s not benefiting anybody. It’s a danger.”

Sheriff David Snyders submitted a resolution to the Stephenson County board saying that the department is looking to replace it’s patrol fleet, which consists of 12 vehicles.  He says it is usually done every five years, but it’s been seven, and now two cars are falling apart in the parking lot.

“The original resolution should’ve passed with no problem,” said Sheriff Snyders.  Except it didn’t.

One of the county board members who voted in opposition to the resolution is Dan Neil. But he says it’s not because he’s against new squad cars.

“That’s not the issue,” said Neil, Stephenson County Board Member. “I just want to see it done under sound business practices.” And to him, that means detailed information, including a list of bids similar to one submitted by the county maintenance department.

“This is for an $11,000 item, and we have three bids,” said Neil as he pointed to the bid document from the maintenance department. “This is for a $373,000 item and we have no bid paperwork.”

Sheriff Snyders pointed out that he uses state bidding. Neil says he wants to see the actual documents from the state, and he would also like to check into local options.

Snyders has held the Sheriff’s post for 17 years. He said, aside from an incident in the early 2000’s, he’s “never had this much difficulty getting squad’s replaced, ever.”

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