Victoria business customizes county sheriff's office van

Kathryn Cargo By Kathryn Cargo

July 16, 2017 at 10:08 p.m.
Updated July 17, 2017 at 6 a.m.

Former mayor Will Armstrong looks at the Victoria County Sheriff's Office's new multipurpose van. Clegg Industries specialized the van, which can transport a SWAT team, group of detainees or cargo or act as a command center.

Former mayor Will Armstrong looks at the Victoria County Sheriff's Office's new multipurpose van. Clegg Industries specialized the van, which can transport a SWAT team, group of detainees or cargo or act as a command center.   Kathryn Cargo for The Victoria Advocate

Victoria-based Clegg Industries customized a multipurpose van for the Victoria County Sheriff's Office that will solve transportation issues for the agency.

John Clegg owns the business with his wife, Judy Clegg, and his son, J.B. Clegg.

An important use for the van will be to transport the sheriff's office's SWAT team, Clegg said. The van is highly insulated and has strong air conditioning.

The van was displayed and opened for tours at Tuesday's weekly Victoria Economic Development Corporation partnership meeting.

Victoria County Sheriff T. Michael O'Connor recalled a time when he and deputies went out to a domestic violence call. The sheriff encountered a suspect who was possibly 6 feet, 6 inches tall and weighed about 240 pounds. Deputies had to figure out how to transport him efficiently because of his size.

"(One) challenge is how are we going to take him?" O'Connor said. "Can we stuff him in a patrol car . or a Tahoe? I mean, these are challenges you don't necessarily see on the daily basis, but we do."

Clegg worked on the van for about three months and handed it off to the sheriff's office about two weeks ago. The van was bought for $25,000 as a replacement vehicle, O'Connor said. County authorities used between $35,000 and $40,000 of asset forfeiture money to pay for the customization.

"We also kept in mind, 'What can we do with this vehicle to make it more than just a transport vehicle for detention?'" he said. "We approached Clegg Industries because they have been creative in making equipment worldwide for multiple entities."

O'Connor said it's better to have a multipurpose vehicle for reasons including maintenance, cost savings and utility.

The van can transport a prisoner in a wheelchair, ensuring the office complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act, as the office lacked a vehicle with a ramp, O'Connor said. The three-door van also offers a quicker exit for SWAT team members along with wide steps and handrails for safety.

Authorities can transport cargo in the van because the seats flip up, Clegg said, or transport a group of detainees.

Clegg's company started building and customizing vehicles about 30 years ago, starting with race car trailers.

"Over the years, the vehicles started getting more complex, and we started dealing with more and more people all around the world," he said.

Clegg has specialized vehicles for law enforcement since he began, he said. The first complex vehicle the company made was for U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The vehicle was a mobile laboratory.

Before he began building complex vehicles, Clegg did some contracting with the Federal Emergency Management Agency in the mobile home industry doing disaster work, he said. He started selling mobile homes in 1968.

"One thing led to another," he said. "We knew how to do that type of contracting, so we just started seeking out those kinds of jobs."

Clegg regularly works on law enforcement vehicles for international agencies. He contracts with the U.S. Army Operations Command, which is one of his largest customers. He also works with aerospace companies.

"We've done work for all the branches of the armed services," he said.

Half of Clegg's work is defense-related, and the other half is for commercial customers and other agencies.

"Specialized vehicles for defense and industry - that's on our logo," he said.

The Victoria County Sheriff's Office has worked with Clegg Industries for about a decade, O'Connor said.

"The thing about John Clegg, he's a perfectionist by nature," the sheriff said. "That's why he's well-regarded worldwide to build whatever is needed . It's because of his leadership in the community as well as in his company. I've been very confident if he's tasked to it, that it'll be the best."


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