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Resolution Limits Use of County Vehicles

By: Sabrina Wu
By: Sabrina Wu

A new Wood County resolution says deputies can only drive squad cars to and from work, and when they're scheduled to be on active duty. Deputies say they're afraid this would keep off-duty officers from being able to help if they're nearby when a crime is happening.

"How many minutes does it take for something very bad to happen?" asked Deputy Ray Starks. "If an officer has to respond from a much farther distance away? If he has to turn around and get his car."
County officials say one reason for the decision is that some deputies are abusing the privilege to drive a county vehicle.

"They are not allowed to, or will not be allowed to use vehicles for personal errands," Ed Reed, from the county's human resources department said. "Running down to the gas station for a newspaper, for example."

Reed says there are two reasons the county board made the choice. First, to be careful in the way it uses tax money. Second, to limit the county's liability if a deputy's family member is hurt while riding in a squad car.

"I feel we'd be able to continue to meet the safety needs of Wood County officers," said Reed. "We do not need to rely on our off-duty officers."

Reed tells us this resolution is not just for sheriff's deputies, but also for anyone who has access to a county vehicle. The new rule is being discussed as part of current contract negotiations between the sheriff's union and the county.