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Sheriff: 'We need a plan'; Commissioner: 'We have a plan'

Scott Seitz2 • Oct 1, 2012 at 5:29 PM

The situation involving cruisers at the sheriff's office is becoming desperate, Huron County Sheriff Dane Howard says.

"Seven times in four years I've made a request for cruisers," Howard said. "I'm drafting a letter now to send to the county commissioners and that will make an eighth request.

"The commissioners need to develop a plan for the cruisers," Howard added. "It's their responsibility. They are the management and control the purse strings. We can only spend the money we are provided with."

Howard said Friday he's tired of hearing the commissioners gave his budget $50,000 earlier in 2012.

"They said I could spend that money on either cars or manpower," Howard said, adding he wasn't about to lay off deputies.

"I chose to keep people employed," he added. "The commissioners need a plan. It's time for action, in fact, it's way past the time for action. The safety of the public and the deputies is on the line."

Howard said the majority of the fleet is in "poor condition."

The sheriff recently spent $3,500 out of the Furtherance of Justice fund to buy a car from a nearby police department that had 114,000 miles on it and hail damage.

County Commissioner Larry Silcox said Friday afternoon there is a plan for cruisers.

"We bought three cruisers last year and we're going to buy another three this year, but the sheriff wanted personnel," Silcox said. "That was his choice.

"We'll look at this again next year and if the money is there, we will buy three more cruisers," he said. "That is the plan. I don't see it as an issue."

Silcox said that was the same plan that worked with retired Sheriff Richard Sutherland.

Howard along with Capt. Ted Patrick also said Friday the sheriff's office can't get any cooperation out of county mechanic Lon Burton.

The mechanic is supervised by the county commissioners.

Burton was hired by the county in 1999 and earns an annual salary of $39,644, according to auditor's office records.

"We have a couple cars with no radios and asked the county mechanic to install the radios and he refused to do that," Patrick said. "He said that wasn't in his job description. The mechanic isn't apparently being supervised because there have been several months of requests."

The sheriff said he's about to hire an outside to mechanic to equip the cruisers.

"That's at a cost of thousands of dollars of taxpayer money," he said.

After hearing this Friday, Silcox directly called the mechanic.

"That's absolutely untrue," Silcox said. "The mechanic has said a couple times in the past that things weren't in his job description when it clearly is. That was well in the past."

Silcox said he's received no complaints recently about the mechanic from the sheriff.

"I talked to the mechanic and told him anything the sheriff wants him to do, he will do," Silcox said.

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