By David Howell
COFFEEVILLE – Sheriff Lance Humphreys received approval from supervisors to purchase two patrol cars for his fleet, vehicles will replace two cars currently in service with over a quarter-million miles on the odometer. The approval came at Monday’s recessed meeting after his request had been tabled from earlier in the month and the vehicle problems been a topic in meetings last year.
The purchase price for the pair of 2016 Ford Interceptor cars was just over $21,000 each, plus the cost to outfit them with lights, sirens and other equipment. A portion of the money used for the purchase came from a fund earmarked for the recent renovation for the new sheriff’s department, a project Humphreys ramrodded to help save money.
Board President Cayce Washington explained the leftover construction money was originally budgeted for a state inmate building, but when state inmates were no longer available the remaining money was used to retrofit the building for a new sheriff’s department.
“There was some money left over in the construction fund and I told him that may be an avenue we could pull some money from for a car,” Washington explained. The fund had $72,300 and the sheriff reported Monday he only spent $44,507, leaving a balance of $27,792. The leftover money funded the purchase on one of the vehicles outright, and the remaining portion was applied to the second car. The balance on the second car was financed for four years.
The sheriff also fielded questions about several wrecks deputies have experienced while patrolling.
“Because of the higher risk chases, or the blocking of a car coming down I-55 trying to stop a crime situation, I understand the wrecked cars. But man three wrecks,” Washington noted. “It seems like we have had our share of accidents.”
“I know if something happens at my house I want that accelerator on the floor board,” District 3 Supervisor Lee McMinn said.
“I can say that of the wrecks that deputies have had, it has either been chasing somebody that has broken the law. I had one that was responded to a call with blue lights on and somebody pulled out in front of him and he had to take the ditch,” Humphreys explained. In another wreck, Humphreys said a deputy blocked a vehicle multiple law enforcement agencies were pursuing, and prevented other motorists from being injured.
Washington also added that had heard talk from people in District 5 and around Windsor Foods that indicated they didn’t see deputies patrolling.
“If they are going to read in the paper we are providing new cars, they want to see you. I know y’all are locking people up, but I have heard some people complaining that they don’t see you,” Washington said.
“I would love for whoever it is to come and ride. I would invite anybody here to please come ride with my guys. I have two people working at night. There is no way two deputies can cover Yalobusha County answering calls and patrol any night,” Humphreys countered. He also said weekend calls are continuous until 3 or 4 a.m. in the morning.
“If I had more deputies, they could be patrolling more. But right now, we are doing our best to answer the calls we get. We can’t be everywhere,” Humphreys said.
He also said the distance between calls can be 30 or 40 minutes due to the size of the county.
“I would love for one of y’all to come out and just ride with one of the guys,” Humphreys continued.
“I appreciate that offer, but it is too risky for me, I have three kids I have to raise,” McMinn joked, noting the danger deputies face every day.
“That makes a bold statement about what we pay and the risk these deputies take,” Washington added.
“All of my employees have a wife and kids also, but they do it every day,” Humphreys added.