Advocate editorial board opinion: Used cars will get the sheriff's fleet up to par

During these hard economic times, necessity requires trimming and innovating to get by.

This is exactly what Victoria County Sheriff T. Michael O'Connor is doing by purchasing used cars for his law enforcement fleet, and we praise him for it.

County government couldn't purchase new units for O'Connor, so he started inquiring about the Department of Public Safety's "trade at 100,000 miles" cars.

Keep in mind that a fully-equipped, new unit runs about $50,000. Half of that new-car price is the equipment cost. In some cases, equipment can be moved from one car to another to save money.

Buying used cars "is not a solution by no means. It's a temporary fix," he said.

We realize that cars with 100,000 miles on them may have problems the sheriff will inherit. But after looking into buying used cars, he found three 2004 cars he said he thinks were used by K-9 DPS troopers, and they aren't as hard on cars as others in the DPS. He also found a 2006 unit and an unmarked 2004 Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission unit that looked promising. In addition, he found a 2007 Tahoe.

The total cost of all the cars was $18,500. O'Connor said he would use the $30,000 the commissioners court approved to get the cars ready for use.

Unfortunately this year, one of O'Connor's fleet hit a hog, which totaled the unit.

In another instance, a driver ran a red light and T-boned a unit, totaling it.

And many of his existing units have 200,000 miles logged on them.

"The biggest issue is to have a reliable fleet. This will enable us to stay out in the field and have the response time - that's critical," he said.

If O'Connor hadn't resorted to used cars, which he says in not a unique idea and that many smaller agencies buy them, the units he relies on to last five years would have their life shortened to three years.

"This will buy us two years," he said.

Again, we applaud the sheriff for keeping his fleet up to par and thus keeping our county safe while saving the county money in a down-turned economy.

This editorial reflects the views of the Victoria Advocate's editorial board.