Mono County Sheriff Ingrid Braun wants to purchase Chevy Tahoes that she claims perform better in Mono County conditions—inclement weather, off-road and snow and ice. The Sheriff’s Department is moving Mono away from Ford products, the Explorer and Interceptor, previous staples of the fleet. Tahoes are more expensive, by about $9,000, but not twice as much as earlier reported; $43,607 for the Tahoe and $34,305 for the Interceptor, plus $31,000 per vehicle to equip them for law enforcement use, no matter the model.
Mono County Supervisor Larry Johnston has held fast for more than a year that the Tahoes cost too much, they’re far from eco-friendly and not in line with county policy of having consistency within the entire county fleet.
The car debate will be open to public comment but a date has not yet been chosen.
Johnston said in an e-mail to The Sheet on August 15, that he has issue with the cost. $75,000 is the price of a Porsche. He said he received an unsolicited call from the Bishop Ford dealer saying they just provided Inyo County nine fully equipped Ford Interceptor police vehicles for more than $45,000 each. The three Chevy Tahoes requested by the Sheriff this year are $76,000, up from $65,000 last year, he said.
Representatives from National Fleet Auto Group, a popular dealer for law enforcement, could not provide The Sheet with a cost for the 2017 models, (they’re not yet on the market) or the 2016 models, because they were no longer for sale.
The county adopted a policy about two years ago to consolidate the makes of vehicles in the county’s fleet. “This was done to make the job of our motor pool maintenance easier and more efficient… similar tools, similar parts, similar service procedures and manuals. Fords were targeted as they are already part of our fleet. The policy should be changed first, otherwise it’s nothing more than lip service.”
Deputies drive about 35,000 miles a year, says Undersheriff Michael Moriarty, to cover the 142 miles of Mono County and to assist with calls in Inyo and Alpine counties and Douglass and Esmerelda counties in Nevada. Typically, deputies also spend more than 12 hours a day in the vehicles, according to Moriarty, and comfort is just as important as speed and handling. The cramped and stiff seats in the Fords have led to back injuries, according to Moriarty.
Mono County Sheriff Deputy Mark Hanson prepared a report on performance and comfort comparing the two vehicles on August 9.
Deputies reported the Interceptor handles well on dry pavement, but had little ground clearance and lost traction in ice and snow.