State Grant Means New Cars for Officers

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By Sam Smith
By Benjy Jeffords

MASSAC CO. -- Local police departments with aging cars and rising maintenance costs are getting a break. The Illinois Criminal Justice Authority has awarded grants to five police agencies in our region.

The Cairo Police Department, Carbondale Police Department and Salem Police Department along with the Alexander and Massac County Sheriff's Departments will receive money for new cars. For Massac County, the $20,000 grant is greatly appreciated.

The department can now afford to buy its first new car in four years. Holder says it comes just in time. The department has 10 patrol cars with an average of 146,000 miles racked up.

"When a car gets to 150, we experience a lot of mechanical trouble with it, and there's not any money in the budget to fix the cars," says Massac County Sheriff Ted Holder.

The Sheriff's Department is operating under a tight budget. Holder says their older cars aren't fuel efficient and the department will have to limit patrols to save gas money.

"We do have a security check program we run afternoon and midnight shifts and we are all over, all over Massac County doing this. So, as gas gets to four dollars a gallon and higher, it's going to cause us a problem," describes Holder.

They expect the new car to replace the oldest and least efficient in the fleet. Equipment from the old car will be transferred over to the new one, but while the sheriff is thankful for the grant, Holder says his department still needs new radio equipment and vests.

"We are constantly applying for grants for new equipment because that's the part of the budget where there is not any money. We try to focus most of our money towards the employees and the staff and hopefully grants make up for the part for the equipment," says Holder.

The Massac County Sheriff's department will take bids from three local car dealerships and then select the most economical. They expect to have the new car on patrol in two months.
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